Swindle: Three proven rules of e-mail

Published 6:20 pm Thursday, September 21, 2017

E-mail is perhaps the most efficient way to communicate in business, personal life, and within organizations. The main benefits are: a written record of communication is saved. Time can be taken to collect thoughts. Finally, it saves time.

Now, there are multiple examples when phone calls and hearing another person’s voice are much more important than an e-mail. Common sense guides us on when e-mail is appropriate.

While e-mail has so many positive features, there are some serious problems associated with its use. There are the three proven rules that if we are mindful of can make our e-mail communications a positive rather than a negative.

Sometimes, we receive e-mails that are dishonest or otherwise inappropriate. This often makes us angry. This week, I received an e-mail from a person that was accusatory and factually incorrect.  As my anger grew, I drafted a response that was twice as aggressive and sure to create a string of e-mails or worse. Thankfully, I remembered the 24 Hour Rule.  I simply kept the draft, waited until the next day, and then responded.  My two draft responses were polar opposites. The first one, was written out of anger. The second one, which I sent, was written out of calmness. While I did point out that the man was wrong, I simply expressed my disappointment with his e-mail and asked him to seek the truth before responding. Two days later, he called and apologized.

E-mails are meant to convey information in a factual manner. With a few exceptions, e-mails should not be emotionally based or centered around personal problems. The telephone works much better under these circumstances.

Many folks have a couple or more drinks at the end of a long day. For the vast majority of people, this is not a problem. But, imbibing lowers  inhibitions and can increase the desire to “tell it like it is.”  Sometimes, when a person has been drinking and starts e-mailing others, it can be devastating. Sometimes, people say things they don’t mean and make some big mistakes in both their personal and professional lives.

Lastly, remember that every e-mail we send is forever saved. Deleting an e-mail does nothing but place it in a folder called “delete.”

But, using e-mail the correct way and being mindful of the three rules, can have a positive impact on every aspect of our lives.

Jason W. Swindle Sr. is a Senior Partner and Criminal Defense Attorney at Swindle Law Group in Carrollton.