How Email Let Me Be Human

I had been dreading a difficult conversation with a team member.  I needed to communicate that something wouldn't be going the way he wanted it to and why.  In typical fashion for when I'm delivering "bad" news, I ran through my thoughts dozens of times in my head.  I wanted to get the tone right.  I wanted the person to know that he is valued and that the choice to go a different way didn't reflect a lack of appreciation for his perspective.  I wanted him to know that the decision wasn't necessarily permanent in the long run.  I wanted him to know that I knew he would likely be frustrated.  And I wanted the message to be one human to another.

I feared that if we met in person, I would get part of the message out and then botch the rest.  Or I'd focus too much on the details and forget the human side.  Or I'd come across as compassionate but not firm in the decision to go another way.

The more I thought about it, the more I leaned towards sending an email first before the in-person meeting.  An email would allow me to get the wording and the tone right.  I would have time to form the message, and the recipient would have time to process the news before we talked.

I crafted and sent an email.  Later we met in person and had a productive and honest discussion.

Normally I rant about email and how it's annoying and a time sink, but on this occasion, it allowed me to be more human.