Not only was I completely overwhelmed, but I just shut down. I mean, completely shut down. And it was all based on how an email looked in my inbox – not even reading any of the words. It was just the sheer amount of content, the sheer amount of words that were in this email that caused me to shut down and just want to hit delete immediately.

But I couldn’t; it was an email forwarded to me from one of my private coaching clients that she had received from one of her direct reports, and I was coaching her on the next steps from this email. Now, I have nothing to do with this direct report or company, but me, again, without even reading it, I just wanted to get rid of this email as quickly as possible.

It was so overwhelming. And while email is an amazing communication tool, it’s great for record keeping, there’s so many advantages, right? But when should we not email? When should we instead pick up the phone, make a quick call, or schedule a meeting? Well, the general rule of thumb is if you are crafting an email where you need three or more pieces of information to be sent out and feedback received, or there might be some back and forth – three or more items, that warrants a call or scheduling a meeting, it should not be via email.

Your intent, when you’re sending an email to another person asking for feedback, you want them to do something. If your email looks so overwhelming that it causes the recipient to just shut down like I did, you’re never going to get anywhere. You’re never going to achieve what you want to achieve.

So instead, pick up the phone. Now for you leaders, this is an amazing coaching opportunity for your direct reports. Especially when we’re thinking about this new generation that’s entered the workforce, where they’ve relied almost solely on technology. Many of them are scared to just pick up the phone. So use this rule of three as a great coaching opportunity, so we can keep the lines of communication open and you can get what you want on the other side.