The purpose of the following is to enhance healthy communication by email in the Fellowship. Email communication is useful but sometimes phone or face-to-face contact is better.

When is Email Communication Most Appropriate?

  • When the message you want to send is specific
  • When you know the recipient, his or her role in UUFCO and their preferences for a formal or informal tone of messages (so you can match their preference)
  • When there is no urgent need for an immediate reply (some check emails infrequently)
  • When sending  an electronic document as an attachment, e.g., policy statement or data set
  • When sending a large group an identical message, using a “contact group” method
  • When you need a written record of sent and received messages, using an email chain

When is Email Communication Not So Appropriate?

  • When the message involves a personal issue between you and the recipient
  • When confidential information is included in the message (email is a public communication)
  • When the issue is complex, requiring extensive dialogue between you and the recipient (In the absence of auditory and visual cues there is more opportunity for misunderstandings.)
  • When your emotions about the message will convey anger and irritation to the recipient (a common suggestion is “wait  24 hours before sending  the message”)

Tips for Using Email in the Fellowship Community

  • The subject line should be clear and specific; if quick action is required, include that in the subject line; the subject line might also include information such as the date and time of a meeting.
  • Try to acknowledge or reply to a received message within a day or two, especially if important.
  • Keep messages relatively short and on topic; include longer or more complex material in an attached document.  Offer to resend a document if recipient can’t open the document.
  • When sending an identical message to a group, use the “group contact” method.
  • When receiving a group contact message, use “reply all” only when others need to know what you are sending; otherwise just reply to the original sender.
  • Take care when sending out jokes, columns or non-Fellowship material; not everyone likes to receive extraneous messages.
  • Before sending your message, re-read it to check for proper grammar, completeness and clarity.
  • Use greetings and sign-offs appropriate for the recipient(s); if the recipient is not a member of the UUFCO community, include your full name, role and other contact information.
  • As in all interactions, try to honor our Seven Principals in email communications.

Healthy Congregations Team — January 2018


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