Different types of information call for different types of delivery. You can avoid many communication issues by delivering emotional information in person and keeping the facts for email.
Photo by Nic McPhee
Sending an email with morale-boosting news can ruin the boost it was meant to give, and taking time to deliver basic facts to someone in person is wasteful and inefficient. Geoffrey James at Inc. recommends delivering emotional news — good or bad — face to face:
…if you’ve got great news that will get everyone stoked up, it will be more effective and create more positive energy if you deliver it in person. A group meeting to announce a big sales win, for example, is like an instant celebration. By contrast, an email announcing the same win seems a bit like an afterthought. Similarly, if you’ve got bad news or criticism, it will be better received, and more likely to be helpful, if it’s delivered in person. If you use email, it will seem like you don’t care or that you’re cowardly.
So when do you use email? James suggests saving it for just the facts:
People only retain a small percentage of facts when they’re communicated verbally. Therefore, having a written record of those facts helps ensure that they don’t get lost when it’s time to make decisions… communicating facts verbally to large groups is extremely inefficient. It’s much better to use email to get everyone up to speed and then have a discussion of what yet needs to be accomplished.
Save emails for anything important that needs to be referenced later on. Saving facts for emails can also reduce meeting times because you’re spending less time talking about what everyone else can just read on their own. Differentiating these types of communication can keep information from losing its kick and keep you from wasting everyone’s time.