Don’t Be An Email Abuser

614143662I see so much email abuse daily. It’s truly a tidal way of lack of professionalism, and in many cases career stunting behavior. It often boggles my mind as I see people “arguing” via email, as if anyone every changed another’s mind electronically. Not happening.

My friend, the wise Paul Gumbinner, wrote about this recently in his terrific blog about the ad industry, View from Madison Avenue. His post, Ten Mistakes You Are Probably Making With Email, really summed up the issues.

Here are the major email flaws as I see them:

1. Determine first whether email really is the best way to communicate.

I find most people hide behind email in delivering “bad news” or a point of view they know the receiving party won’t agree with. How cowardly. If you are delivering bad news, do it forthrightly and verbally (or god forbid in person). If you have a different point of view, call the person (or meet) to discuss it. You have a far better chance of influencing their opinion, or perhaps changing yours, with some dialog.

2. Keep email really brief

Try and use email for basic information, not a white paper. If you need to white a white paper, write it and attach it and merely say in your email that a full analysis of such and such is attached and I look forward to discussing the contents.

3. Copy only those relevant to the email

Don’t copy the world and then expect everyone to read and digest

4. Be specific about the action needed

Don’t be vague about what action you seek, but don’t really expect action to be taken without follow up (see #6 below)

5Do not curse or use humor

There’s no crying in baseball and there’s no emotion in email. The emotion is in your head only. You attempts at humor or passion will be misunderstood.

6. Know that half of all emails are unread, so don’t assume readership.

Going back to #1, err on the side of dialog rather than email.

In summary, see mail for its major advantages which is disseminating basic information to individuals/groups. And don’t be an email abuser. It will bite you in the butt if you do.

More Strumings


  1. Linda Rink says:

    Dear Lonny,

    I cannot agree with you more. Having a “discussion” via e-mail is so often self-defeating and a big time-waster. And as you state, it often leads to miscommunication and hurt feelings. My advice: “Just pick up the phone!”


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