Our church uses email regularly for announcements, prayer updates, and notes between staff. But one thing we no longer do with email is handle conflict. We learned the hard way. Email is not suited for dealing with conflict. Here are a few reasons why:

1. E-mail doesn't convey emotion well. Face-to-face, you can gauge emotion by watching body language. But with email or instant messaging, readings of emotional tone are often wrong. People read into things what they think you feel.

During one heart-to-heart online conversation, being a fast typist, I responded quickly to each of my friend's posts. I noticed she became defensive and the conversation ended. It was weeks before I realized she had been offended by the speed of my replies. She interpreted my rapid posts to mean I was angry. After making peace, we agreed to talk in person next time.

2. Email is a read-and-reply culture. If you are angry, it's all too easy to "vent and send" before investigating the facts.

At our previous church, ...

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