7 Reasons to NOT use e-mail for urgent messages

Reason #2: E-mail can be easily misunderstood

As discussed in the last blog post, we tend to gravitate towards e-mail for the majority of our communications because it’s easy, quick, convenient, cheap, and gives us a record of the conversation and so on.

However, sending a message is only one part of the communication we’re trying to achieve. Ensuring that our recipient(s) has, firstly, received and secondly, understood the message, in the same way as we sent it, is the other part of communicating effectively.

So while e-mail can seem to be a quick way of communicating, it often lacks the richness needed to ensure clarity. As you can see in the diagram below, when the speed of communication increases, the degree of context, background detail and media richness decreases and the potential for being misunderstood increases.

For example, using a richer mode of communication such as a meeting, allows any misunderstandings or misinterpretations to be quickly identified and corrected. But if that same message is sent via e-mail it can take quite some time before the misunderstanding is detected and then longer again before it is corrected.

So, when using e-mail, it is useful to ask yourself the following questions;

  • How likely is this message to be misunderstood?
  • What are the implications if it is misunderstood?
  • How much time and effort would be needed to correct things if it is misunderstood?

This is even more important when sending urgent messages. If it takes more time to establish and ensure an accurate communication, the urgency of the message is compromised, so it would have better to use a more suitable mode for communicating it in the first place.

So that’s the second of the 7 reasons to NOT use e-mail for urgent messages. Our next blog post will look at why it can actually take LONGER to fully communicate your message when using e-mail.

All the best,

Steuart Snooks