Email is a great way to communicate with colleagues, friends, and family. But did you know that email is also a really good way to have dialog when you’re in a fight with your significant other?
There are all kinds of fantastic reasons why email can be a better, more productive medium to argue, than that dread heated one-on-one shouting match.
Here are six reasons why:
Thoughtful deliberation – No one says arguing has to be done in real-time. Email is a great medium to allow us to edit (and re-edit) our words. Does it sound too harsh? Too angry? Too petty and vindictive? Come back to it later and rewrite.
Knowing and stating your own position clearer – You’ll eliminate this “it sounded good in my head” issue when it truly looks ridiculous on paper. Alternately, you’ll be able to adjust your argument or perspective, so it sounds clearer than rambling off-the-cuff remarks. It allows you to focus.
Listening – Ever get the sense that they’re just waiting for your mouth to stop moving before they can say what they’ve been thinking of the entire time? Email compels people to pay attention to words on the page, and most of all, there’s no annoying interruptions.
Paper trail – “I never said that!” Well, yes you did. Email has a memory, more objective than any two people in the middle of a quibble. Email lends itself to more precise, accurate, easily-verifiable recall. In an email, you can trace back what the fight was really about – versus in-person when things get a little out of control with tangents and “kitchen sinking.”
Distance –You don’t have to look at, or be in the same room as, the person you’re furious with. Some people like that.
It’s cathartic – Once you have written down your thoughts, your emotions are dumped on the page. You may realize, once you’ve seen your words, that it’s not a dispute you want to indulge in anymore. The very act of this release might be all it takes to eliminate the ill will.
Essentially, in its best form, email allows us to reflect, reference and respond. That’s not to say that email fights don’t exist, but usually, it’s the in-person exchanges that get us so riled up.
And while you may lose some body language and nuance of speech, if you don’t quite understand what they mean in an email, you can ask for clarification.
Consider this –US President Kennedy and Soviet Chairman Khrushchev both corresponded with each other dozens of times with the written word, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Crisis was solved diplomatically, and graciously, with neither side losing face.
One could only imagine if this heated diplomatic row was fought over the telephone, or in a tense-filled room.
As Dennis Prager, nationally syndicated radio host and author of bestselling “Happiness is a Serious Problem” aptly puts it:
“If people read what they spoke, they would realize how much fluff there is. I always say that writing is the mirror of the mind. The body has its physical mirror, and the brain has writing as its mirror. That’s why I’m very skeptical of people who are considered important thinkers but haven’t written. I don’t quite see how that’s possible. Writing disciplines the mind because you have to face what you think. Writing demands coherence, except in academia, where incoherence is a virtue.”
Today with email, we can fight “21st-century style,” and avert our own mini-crises. And hopefully, sort things out amicably.