Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Email Is Not Duct Tape

Email is wonderful. I know, I know, SPAM is overwhelming, we receive the same 'funnies' five times in one day (and then again several months later from those who missed it the first time), and so on. But overall, I am grateful for the vast communication channels it has made available to all people. Free, almost instantaneous communication with anyone around the world has been an amazing advance in my lifetime.

As with all forms of communication however, it has its place. Just as one shouldn't deliver bad news by singing telegram, the efficiency of email does not excuse its use in place of the appropriate form of communication.

Exspecially if the issue is important, a phone call is often warranted. With SPAM filters, server hiccups, and computer gremlins, you have no guarantee that your email was received. And not everyone appreciates the 'notify sender when received' function.

If the issue is emotional or could in any way be misinterpreted, a face-to-face meeting or phone call is the safer option.

In light of the new Federal Rules of Evidence and heightened awareness of e-discovery, your attorney-client may appreciate your thoughtfulness in discussing case-related matters verbally rather than putting them in an email that may later prove to be discoverable. And email never dies -- it lives forever on the receiver's computer, your ISP's server, webmail, a PDA, etc.

Finally, because its use is so prevalent, when you take the time to make a phone call, pen a hand-written note or - gasp! - see someone in person, it truly stands out for that individual. You have made your contact person feel important and as a result, made yourself memorable in his or her mind.

Without a doubt, I will continue to take advantage of this wonderful tool and hope you do as well. But maybe we should ask ourselves from time to time, "Is this the best way to send this message?"

1 comment:

Cindy Pinsonnault said...

As you say, email is a tremendous advancement in speed and efficiency of communication. But you are so right in saying it doesn't fit every circumstance. There are times when a call, a letter or even a personal meeting is the only appropriate way to deliver your message. This is great advice for anyone, particularly when marketing a service. For instance, my doctor now delivers most test results via a Web site. Most of the time, I find it a quick, easy way to get my updates. But can you imagine if that was extended to more serious news? Anyone providing professional services needs to know when it's time to make it personal.

Thanks for the great article.

Cindyp
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