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Emails You Never Want to Send
Monday, July 8, 2013

I did it again. When someone sends me an email that has an emotional charge to it, instead of initiating a verbal discussion, I react by sending a response. I wish I didnít, and I do try not to -- I kick myself every time and then vow never to do it again -- but itís like having a twitchy trigger finger.

ďMy name is Dave, and Iím an emotional emailer.Ē

I recently received an email from a fellow professional, pointing out something I was doing that my correspondent disagreed with. It didnít feel like a major issue to me, and I wonít be changing my approach, but the note itself felt petty. I sent a brief response asking for more details and got a vague response. Cue my speedy little fingers to write a message that should never have been sent.


Thereís a lesson here -- or two, really.

First: Emails need to be, and stay, factual. As soon as any emotion comes into play, it is time to have a real conversation -- by phone at minimum. I frequently tell myself this, but it comes back to haunt more times than I would like. In fact, try to use phone calls rather than email whenever appropriate. I enjoy receiving phone calls and talking to people, so I need to take my own advice.

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Additionally, I need to understand that my dream may be met with some objection, and that I have the capability to hurt people unintentionally. If people disagree with what Iím doing, my response should be to listen and continue moving forward, without getting dragged into a conflict. Those disagreements steal my focus away from where it ought to be: building my business.

Dave Grant, CFP, a Financial Planning columnist, is the founder of Cary, Ill.-based planning firm Finance for Teachers. Heís also the founder of Fee Only Consulting, which focuses on developing the skills of Gen Y planners. In addition, heís the founder of NAPFA Genesis, a networking group for young, fee-only planners.

(3) Comments
Good Post - yes, one of the draw backs of email is that the recipient can not always tell the intended inflection in the email. I try to wait until the next day to re-read emails that strike me wrong which fortunately is not too often.

If I write a response to a difficult email, I try to sleep on that as well. When I re-read my "draft" email response the next day, I am often surprised that portions of the email may not convey the sincerity that I had intended.

Nothing can replace the sincerity of your own voice and as I tell everyone in my office whenever there is a difficult situation, do not email, call because how you communicate is half the battle.


"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle."

Posted by JAMES S | Tuesday, July 09 2013 at 5:45PM ET
Thanks James - good tips!
Posted by Dave G | Thursday, July 11 2013 at 9:41AM ET
Dave - thanks for sharing this! I've done that myself - and only after a few missives emailed did I learn to save an angry email to drafts and look at it again the next day. It has helped me leaps and bounds when I get charged up about something.

I've also write out a blistering response and intentionally sent it to myself - and find myself laughing when reading it thinking - "wow, this guy is a jerk!". ;-)

Posted by Blane W | Tuesday, July 16 2013 at 12:44PM ET
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