Posted by Todd Rhoades in Leadership
on Sep 10th, 2012 | 1 comment
In a nutshell: Never assume that something you write in an email will stay confidential. Assume it will get out there, and write accordingly.
As a pastor and church leader, you’re entrusted with lots and lots of information. Much of it is sensitive in nature.
You have to be careful, particularly in written communication these days. What you write in private may at some point be made public. In fact, at some point, a sensitive email you write probably will be forwarded and used against you.
To be honest, we’ve probably all had it happen. Either we send a sensitive email to someone and they (either knowingly or unknowingly) forward or reply to a person that your email wasn’t intended for.
Or, like me, maybe once or twice in your life, you’ve sent a somewhat sensitive email to the wrong person.
Anyway… here are some thoughts that will hopefully eliminate some of these problems. These ideas are offered up by MinistryBestPractices.com:
- Should what I am communicating be better said in a conversation and/or face to face? (sometimes emails aren’t the right medium to communicate difficult issues)
- Have I thought through, prayed and re-read this email before I hit the send button? (never be quick to write and send a sensitive or difficult email)
- What emotional state am I in upon writing this email? Am I angry, tired or frustrated? (if so wait before writing – make sure your thoughts are clear and lucid)
- Would what I have to say in an email be the same thing that I would feel comfortable saying publicly?(in other words you wouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed if your email was made public)
I do this all the time, quite honestly. Sometimes it will take me twice as long to read my email before I send it. I read it over for tone. I read it over trying to put myself in the recipient’s shoes. And I try to read it in mind of other people or situations that it would impact if the email ever became public.
Please, please remember these suggestions before you hit ‘send’. It could save you a ton of embarrassment, outrage, and egg on your face.
Have you experienced having one of your email communications forwarded or sent to the wrong person? Have you ever received a sensitive email that should have been sent to someone else?
Care to share your story? (I’d love to hear it!)