Flame wars preventable
Whether a startup or a large corporation, every organisation is dependent on emails to communicate and to share work related information. Email has...
Whether a startup or a large corporation, every organisation is dependent on emails to communicate and to share work related information. Email has become just a fact of our work lives. However, at times it comes with a set of problems when two parties continue to disagree through an email rather than walking up to each other and discussing the reasons for disagreement in person.
Beyond the chain letters and phishing emails or spam, flame wars conducted over email is probably the biggest cause of productivity loss, in both large and small companies. Instead of creating misunderstanding over the chain letters and disrespecting each other’s views, both the recipient and the sender should clear it out in person.
Most back-and-forth email stinkers or flame wars are preventable, yet they seem to pop up all over the place. Flame wars, particularly between colleagues, are a huge emotional sink, weakening productivity and motivation. This is even truer when the parties involved are in the same office. A single rule to prevent email flame wars is to follow the ‘no third email’ rule.
If one person has sent an email and a second person has responded when it’s clear that they are not agreeing, or not happy – there should be no third email sent. Instead the two parties should talk in person or pick up the phone, if not in the same office.
Most email flaming starts due to one of the two reasons:
- public questioning, accusation or challenge (real or perceived) by usually the sender
- outright misunderstanding by one party (usually the reader)
In the former case, the recipient responds either defensively, or attacks the sender, as they perceive themselves or their work being undermined or attacked. This may or may not have been the intent of the sender. In the latter, regardless of the sender’s intent, the recipient misunderstands either what is being said or why it is being said and leads to misunderstanding and grief.
Regardless of who started it, their intent and what was being actually said, the ‘no third email’ rule works excellently by stopping the electronic conversation, which would at this stage worsen into accusations, counter accusations and finger pointing.
The beauty of this rule is it is independent of who wields the organisational power between the sender and the recipient and ends the blooming potential conflict.