Take It Off Line Because Email Sucks

Stop Sending Emails & Call the Client

Let me get it out of the way so I don’t waste your time. I believe this is so obvious that maybe this post is frivolous. So here’s my point: Stop sending emails and call the client (friend, relative, anyone) with whom there may be either a misunderstanding or dispute. That’s all. That’s the post. If you’re a glutton for details, here’s an anecdote:


I produced some web development deliverables for my client as we worked our way toward his new website. These included a site map, some content and a content template for creating more content.

What is created for the client and paid for by the client belongs to the client. Indisputable. Right?

Nevertheless, we had a dispute.  And that’s the fun part about business. The indisputable can be disputed.  Hey, everyone’s got a point of view.

So how do you resolve it? I sent him his deliverables by email. He expressed his concerns by return email.  In an effort to address his concerns, I sent him more tools (basically, access to an online tool). He balked. Oops.

My good client wrote a nice email expressing frustration. I’d sent him an invoice. He didn’t think I’d given him what he needed. He interpreted gaining access to the online tool as kind of a brush off as in “you take it from here.” No, I didn’t mean that.

Once again, email had failed. It failed me and it failed my client. Email sucks.

I had many feelings. But the prominent feeling was that I was not going to litigate this dispute or misunderstanding by email. I wrote him back, by email, with two responses:

  1. When would you like to talk. And would you like me to come to your business to talk in person.
  2. Regarding my invoice, you owe me nothing. You only pay me if I deliver value. And, then, you only pay me for the value you believe I delivered. That’s my fine print.

Email is an incredible tool. But it is not the Swiss Army knife of communication. It is, in fact, a terrible medium. Because:

  1. People can’t write. The message is lost or confused.
  2. When people write they can become emotional
  3. People can’t read. TL;DR (Too long, didn’t read)
  4. When people read an email they misunderstand
  5. Email is often for cowards. Face it, you’re scared of the real time interaction

If you’ve got a problem that is being discussed by email, and this is true in business and with friends and family, take it off line. Get on the phone. Go f…..ing see the other person. Use your voice. You’ll do great.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.