Don’t hide behind that email!

June 25, 2019
Don't hide behind that email

Don’t hide behind that email!

Personal touch

When it comes to one-on-one communication, I used to recommend to my team to go by the following order of preference:

  1. Face to face
  2. Video conference
  3. Phone call
  4. Voice-mail
  5. Messaging service like Whatsapp chat
  6. Email

My rationale was to preserve the personal touch in any one-on-one communication. For instance, while face to face communication is ideal, a video conference is also quite personal. A phone call is two-way and therefore, interactive. Next on the pecking order is voice-mail. A voice-mail, although one-way, still carries one’s voice, making it personal. A Messaging service is quite common in large organizations. Today, Whatsapp chat has also become an ‘official channel’ of communication with project teams creating small chat groups. Compared to email, Messaging, like Whatsapp chat, can be considered two-way and instant, and therefore, ranks higher than email.

Don’t hide behind that email

In my view, an email should be the last preference in any one-on-one communication. I realized that within my team, there was a tendency to hide behind emails. My team members sitting in adjacent cubicles used to send emails to each other and wait for the response. While reporting on project status, they would say, ‘I have already sent an email but haven’t received a response!’

Don’t hide behind an email! Email is not equal to communication. It is just a tool to communicate. Sending an email does not guarantee that the receiver has seen it, read it or understood it the way the sender intended it to be understood. In a one-on-one setting when one can afford to be personal, choose the appropriate personal approach.

Why email may be necessary

The following could be the exceptions where an email may be necessary for one-on-one communication. Specifically, when you:

  • are just sharing information with someone
  • need an ‘audit trail’. You need proof of having communicated
  • are responding to a routine matter that does not call for building or nurturing a relationship
  • need to copy someone
  • need to send an attachment or a link
  • are sending a message that is to be forwarded by the receiver to someone else

When it comes to one-on-one communication, I cannot think of any other reason why you would send an email.

Which is why I say, ‘Don’t hide behind that email!’


Recently, I was coaching a leader in a not-for-profit organization on his Communication Strategy – what approach to use for which kind of communication. He was using emails extensively in his work life to a point that his coworkers avoided his emails. He had so many stories to communicate but all that was getting lost in his singular communication vehicle – emails. We created different approaches on a grid that he has been using to good effect.

Leadership is all about communication. Would you want to enhance your leadership effectiveness by using different approaches to communication? Reach out to me at [email protected]. Let’s unhide your leadership!

You Might Also Like

%d bloggers like this: