Negative electronic communications destroy trust.
Many schools have experienced the very destructive effects of angry emails, though sent with the intention of privacy; see wider distribution – creating a wave of disruption within the school and without. Many individuals will state in an email, in very strong language, words and expressions they would rarely utter face-to-face. The impersonal quality of email often empowers individuals to unleash inappropriate language and harsh tones.
Additionally, emails can be misinterpreted. Much genuine communication takes place apart from the actual words on the screen or page.
All of this has led myself and other school leaders to utilize email only for sharing information, not frustrations. At the beginning of each school year, faculty, staff, students and parents are reminded that they may not submit a problem or grievance via email. If they do so, the only response they will receive, if any, is to set up an appointment to discuss their concern in person.
Through this practice, I have not only witnessed the temperament and morale of the faculty and staff members improve but community relations as well.
Strictly utilizing email or chat for information-only keeps communications clear – and guards against misinterpretations. Additionally, when stakeholders know school leaders value face-to-face conversations, and will not abide gossip or inappropriate conversations via email or social media – trust in their leadership and the professionalism of the school staff, develops to a greater degree.
©2016 Toby A. Travis, Ed.D.