Email is a Tool. Don’t Hide Behind It.

I thought it was a typical weekday morning. I rode up the elevator with my boss and we chatted about the weekend, the weather and her kids. If I had noticed she had a cup of coffee but not her briefcase I might have realized that she had gone out for a smoke and wasn’t just coming into the office. But since it was 7:30am I didn’t make the connection.

Imagine my surprise when I reached my desk and discovered a scathing, belittling email sent a mere ten minutes earlier and copying her boss.

Email is a great tool. It allows us to communicate information to many people at once, even in different time zones. We can keep a record of who said what when and to ask questions while we are on a conference call (admit it, you do it too).

It also has a dark side. Many of us get buried with hundreds of emails a day. Between being CC’d and BCC’d on email strings that go around and around, plus people not reading the whole string before asking a question that was already answered, it is almost impossible to find and reply to the emails that actually need us to respond. There is also the passive/aggressive non-response. You send an email and the other person either doesn’t know the answer or doesn’t want to talk about the subject so they simply ignore you. Avoidance is such an ugly thing.

10 tips to stop hiding behind email

  1. If you are concerned the other person might misunderstand you – don’t use email
  2. If you are angry or frustrated – don’t use email
  3. If you write an email and then wonder if you should send it – don’t use email
  4. If the content is critical, complicated or includes feedback – don’t use email
  5. If you are trying to protect yourself from the response – don’t use email
  6. If you think you might hurt the other person’s feelings – don’t use email
  7. If you wouldn’t say it to the person directly – don’t use email
  8. If you need to apologize – don’t use email
  9. If you feel like you need a read receipt – don’t use email
  10. If it is a tough conversation you’d rather not have – don’t use email (and don’t ignore it)

There are so many face to face and voice to voice communication options available. If you don’t know how to use at least one video chat option (I have had reasonable luck with both Skype and Google chat for coaching calls), schedule time to become comfortable with one. Pick up the phone or schedule a call. If you feel like you need an email trail about the conversation, follow up with a summary or “for your files” email.  

I know you’ll find there’s a lot less BCCing and CCing necessary when a real time conversation has taken place.  Just make sure you are ready to have a professional conversation founded in respect.

What is your least favorite email to receive?

As always, I wish you the MOST from your potential!

Doc Robyn

PS - Any blog I write can be given in presentation or workshop format. If you're interested in a specific topic, give me a call or send me an email. I'd love to chat with you and make it happen!

Dr. Robyn Odegaard (aka “Doc Robyn”) is internationally known motivational speaker, executive coach and corporate trainer. As CEO of Champion Performance Development, she works with executives, professionals, athletes, and coaches to help them achieve excellence by sharing active leadership, powerful teamwork, conscious communication, Productive Conflict™ and professional disagreement skills. She is the founder of the Stop The Drama! Campaign and author of the books Stop The Drama! The Ultimate Guide to Female Teams and The Ultimate Guide to Handling Every Disagreement Every Time. To work with her one-on-one, have her present to your team, request a custom workshop or invite her to speak at your event, please call 302-307-3091 or email her at


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