Courtly Manners: Better to Type, or to Talk?
Delivering painful or delicate news via email or text message can be risky. When a client opens a message, there is no reassuring voice or facial expression to clarify intent. Throw in jokes or sarcasm (which are typically lost in translation anyway), and you're likely adding insult to insult.
Even seasoned attorneys can make the same misjudgments, so many firms are taking preventive action. Here are a few signs that you need face time or a telephone chat:
- The subject of the exchange is sensitive, or has the potential to escalate.
- Communications shift from addressing facts to opinion or critique.
- Messages become strained or abrupt; a coolness permeates the conversation and the usual pleasantries are forgone.
Like insurance, a telephone conversation can go a long way toward protecting your client relationship. And when you hang up the conversation is over, whereas an email can live forever.
A good rule of thumb for email: When in doubt, don't send it out; pick up the phone.
Published October 2013