For many of us our lives are out there, to be seen and examined by everyone. We tweet and update our Facebook statuses, knowing that others will see them (yet I am always still surprised the foolish things people say and post forgetting that people are going to read it!). Yet even though we are aware of the public nature of social media, we can't forget that even our 'private' email communication with a single person can be exposed to others.
From the book Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul. The author, Howard Schultz, writes about a confidential email that was forwarded to a Starbucks gossip site. He writes:
Staring at the screen, I was speechless. Not because my criticisms were now public. What upset me, what felt like a blow to my gut, was the leak. I could not imagine who would do such a thing. It was nothing less than a betrayal.One of the lessons: Never assume that something you write in an email will stay confidential. Assume it will get out there, and write accordingly. As the book says, 'Nothing is confidential.'
As ministry leaders, we must always be aware and prayerful when writing and sending out sensitive communication We should ask ourselves these questions when writing potentially sensitive and difficult emails.
- 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)