We’ve all seen the mug – and it’s funny because we’ve all sat through meetings that should have been an email! But sometimes, we watch the inbox flood and think, “that email should have been a meeting.” 😄

Meeting should have been an email mug Emily Chang

Let’s start with the former: when can an email suffice?

  • Is your objective simply to inform? If the communication is primarily one-sided, try sending an email before scheduling a meeting. If people are clear on what you need them to know, job done!
  • Do you need to collect inputs? Instead of scheduling time and asking each question, taking time to write down what you hear, consider sending an email. Collect the answers and see if you have what you need, before calling a meeting.

On the other hand, I recently watched a slew of emails go back and forth, thinking, “This really needs to be a meeting.”

Email should have been a meeting cup Emily Chang

When should we not send an email, and call a meeting instead?

  • When one email turns into 15… and there’s no end in sight. Clearly a discussion is needed, so stop typing and pull everyone together!
  • The email asks more than one question. If the sender requires more than one straightforward response, a discussion may be more productive.
  • More than one respondent owes a response. If the sender seeks inputs from multiple people on the email, the group should connect and dialogue.

Then there’s the rare breed who shoots 5-6 questions to you via email. No context, consideration, or timeline. And frankly, no real desire to understand. Make no mistake – those aren’t questions… they’re bullets. In this case, don’t respond via email – ask for a meeting and seek to understand what has ruffled feathers and get them to put down the gun.

Communication is hard. Written and verbal communication can so often be misunderstood. So in the spirit of generosity, take the time to consider your best course of action. Think through what will help you accomplish the job in the most efficient and caring way possible. Then, you’ll do great work AND deepen relationships.

If the mug makes you giggle, check out this song by Ryan Maloney! 😄

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