Are You Hiding Behind Email?


Thank-you for all the kind words after my 500th blog post – I’m as surprised as anybody that I’m still blogging after all this time!

For blog-post 501, I’d like to hand over to a guest Blogger – Alan Matthews of Midlands based, Train Of Thought. Train of Thought provides top quality training and coaching to help managers to be more effective, and I’ve been a fan of Alan’s writing for some time now. When I asked him if he’d be open to writing a guest article for Tubblog, I was thrilled he accepted!

Over to Alan for his blog post entitled “Are You Hiding Behind Email?”:-


We all know that email has revolutionised the way we communicate with each other. Unfortunately, like all revolutions, not all the consequences are beneficial.

Man hiding underneath bedFor one thing, we now have much more information to sift through every day as people send us junk we don’t really need to read. That’s often because they haven’t taken the trouble to consider whether we need to read it, it’s easier for them just to send it and leave us to have to delete it.

Of course, we don’t do that, do we, it’s just other people…isn’t it?

Another thing about the ease of using email is that we can sometimes hide behind it and avoid direct contact with people we should really be speaking to face to face. Yes, this can be because it’s just quicker, but it can also be because we’re avoiding a potentially difficult situation.

How to check you’re not hiding behind e-mail

There have been several stories in the papers recently about people being made redundant by email and most people would say, “How callous and insensitive! How could anyone do that? ”

I agree, it is a terrible way to break bad news to people, but I suspect something similar goes on in workplaces all over the country every day, with people using email to avoid proper conversations.

Here are a few pointers that YOU might be doing the same.

  1. You send an email when you think the other person won’t like what you have to say.
  2. You send an email when there’s a problem with your relationship with the other person and you don’t know how to sort it out.
  3. You send an email as an alternative to taking some other action which you’re avoiding.
  4. You send an email when you want to say no but don’t want to do it face to face.
  5. You send an email when you want to ask for something but you’re afraid of rejection.
  6. You send an email when you should be following up ( e.g. an initial meeting ) with a phone call but you’re nervous about doing that.

In other words, it’s tempting to use emails whenever you are avoiding something that is difficult, challenging or uncomfortable.

The problem is – doing this doesn’t usually deal with whatever it is that needs to be done, it just puts it off.

Face to Face Conversations

Also, if you really need to persuade or influence someone else, there’s no substitute for face to face conversations.

It’s hard to persuade someone just by email. Written words are easy to misunderstand and misinterpret.

If you want to persuade someone, or to get across something which may be difficult to understand or accept, you really need to speak in person. Failing that, the next best thing is to speak on the phone. Email comes a very distant third.

So, next time you’re tempted to send off a quick email, ask yourself whether that is the best method or whether you’re really avoiding something ( or someone ) and taking the easy option.


Thanks to Alan for providing such great content that is certain to get people thinking. I know I have “hidden” behind emails before, have you?

If you’d like to read more of Alan’s work, then I’d highly encourage you to claim a FREE copy of “The Book Of 100 Management Tips”. It contains tips on how to influence people, give feedback, handle conflict, get more from meetings and much more. Go and get it!


  • Richard Tubb2012-05-03 07:00:37

    Craig - absolutely, and knowing you as I do - maintaining such great relationships with your clients - you're in a good position to talk about doing this well! :-)

  • Craig Sharp2012-05-02 17:15:32

    I agree that email is a way to deflect contact, not enguage with it and that's what''s needed to maintain your relationships with clients. Contact them, visit them and talk to them face-2-face. Its amazing how important that is, and I did recently write about this in a Blog Article ), especially when you consider that few other IT companies do it so you will stand out with a big USP ! Craig

  • Reality Check on Emails – Why We Can’t Be Superheros « The CowShed2012-01-26 14:50:21

    [...] reading: ‘Are You Hiding Behind Email?’ – by Richard Tubb Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", [...]

  • tubblog2011-03-03 07:53:52

    I love that quote Nick! Thanks for sharing it - you've got a wise customer there! :-)

  • ncdlloyd2011-03-02 23:41:17

    Interesting post Alan. One of our customers put it very well in one of our early meetings with him; "email is for communication, not conversation". Needless to say we always call him, rather than email him...

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