E-Mail: The Relationship Blowtorch


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 Letters can sometimes serve a useful purpose. If the other person has refused to respond positively to telephone calls or personal conversations, a brief letter may be the only way to invite further communication. If you must resort to communicating by letter, write as personally and graciously as possible. Avoid quoting numerous Bible references, or you will seem to be preaching. Also, at least during initial letters, do not try to explain or justify your conduct in writing, because it will probably be misunderstood. Use your letter to invite communication, and try to leave detailed explanations for a personal conversation. If time allows, set aside the first draft of a letter for a day or two. When you reread it, you may catch words that will do more harm than good.


Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 174

Food for Thought

Have you ever heard the story about the serious disagreement that was brought to a happy ending when one person wrote a long, powerful e-mail to the other person? Neither have we. And that ought to give us pause.

E-mail and letters are great for starting fights and deepening disagreements but far worse at resolving conflicts. Why is that?

The desire to resolve conflict via the written word is usually rooted in two convictions: First, that we need to choose our words carefully (more carefully than we might in person), and second, that if we could just get the other person to listen carefully and attentively to our perspective, then the whole argument between us could be resolved. The first of those aims is laudable; the second is usually sadly mistaken at best and incredibly selfish at worst.

The next time you’re about to hit “send” to fire off an e-mail missile, just say no. Hit delete. Take the “No E-mail Missiles” non-proliferation pledge. Try sending a much shorter, kinder message that reaffirms the importance of the relationship in question and that invites further communication in person or by phone–communication in which you pledge to listen to the other party and to acknowledge your own contributions to the conflict. When it comes to conflict resolution, there’s simply no substitute for face-to-face or voice-to-voice.

I’m guilty of the sending e-mails I shouldn’t. My hubby always warns me about it, but I do it.

I just sent one out a few days ago that was a no-no. And many nasty e-mails went out during our little church ‘split’.

I guess I’m lazy and selfish when it comes to having my say in an argument or conversation.

What about you, any tales of sorrow over e-mail communications?

Blessings, Kristina

Mt 5:37“But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ {or} ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.

Php 4:8Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.


2 responses »

  1. Oh my yes! The written word can be so misunderstood and misinterpreted. i just wrote about this on my blog this week. It seems like it is happening a lot lately! What’s the deal?

    The hard thing about communicating in written form is you cannot see, or express, expression – body language, hear tone. It’s a free for all. And depending on the mental state of the receiver, they can read a whole lot into something that was never intended. It is hard.

    Once you put a word out there – there is no taking it back. It’s there for good!

    I have sent bombs over the internet before. I still cringe and want to puke over it. I have received some as well. I have also sent and received misinterpreted ones as well that I also cringe over. they all have lasting effects.

    Sometimes though, a simple yes or a simple no falls on deaf ears and you just can’t win for losing….

  2. I couldn’t agree more with your observations about the dangers with email being mis-understood. Whether at work or in private, email can oftentimes convey the wrong tone or emotions and lead to problems.

    I also tend to abbreviate and use shorthand in emails that can sometimes be unintelligible or misread by the other party.

    Email makes it easy to fire off a thought without thinking it through. Honestly, it makes us lazy.!!
    ~~Thanks for the comment Travis, I see you are starting a blog journey as well. Have fun with it. Praying it will be used for Gods glory, Kristina

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