7 Reasons I Hate Email Criticism and Encourage You Not to Use It

I have grown to hate email criticism.

Is hate too strong a word?

I don’t think so.

I hate email criticism.

I was talking to a young and new leader recently. He had received a scathing email from someone. It was one of his first. And it was a doozy. Hard hitting. No grace. No value recognized for anything the leader has accomplished. Just the blasting.

Please understand, I’m not opposed to criticism. And I think critical thinking is NOT always criticism. I’ve posted about it before and talked about how we as leaders should process criticism.

I even read—and actually consider—anonymous criticism. I always feel there’s a reason someone remains anonymous. Granted, most of the time it’s because the person is a coward. (Did I just say that?) But sometimes there are valid reasons for anonymity.

So, I’m not anti criticism.

I am, however, anti email-criticism. Or at least how I often see it being used these days.

Enough so that I use the word hate. (Sorry to those who “hate” that word.)

Here are seven reasons I hate email criticism:

It’s impossible to communicate emotion properly. Criticism always has an emotion attached. Always. And it can be so easily misconstrued what that emotion actually is when it’s written and not verbal. It can sting more than it should. It can emphasize—or de-emphasize—more than is intended. Facial expression is ignored. It’s impossible to correctly display emotion in written form. I hate that.

It’s too easy to fire back a response. With little thought, the send button is too easy to find. Before a person thinks. Before they have time to pray. Before anyone can strategically plan out their response, email is too easily at a critic’s disposal.

It leaves people hanging in suspicion. Ever get an email criticism, you email them back a response and then you wait? And you wait. And you wait. You may have answered their concern, they are fully satisfied, but you are still wondering if your email was even received. You don’t know. It creates fear and suspicion, and it’s unfair. I hate that.

It’s easy to hide. Take a slam, hit the send button and run. It’s really that easy. A critic doesn’t even have to sign their name. A computer screen makes for one of the easiest hiding places on earth.

It’s never completely private. It’s too easy to forward an email. Or the famous blind copy email. Ever the recipient of one of those? Email starts a paper trail for something where usually no trail is needed. It never goes away and can be brought back months and years later and be used against someone. That’s very non-grace-giving.

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Ron Edmondson
Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.