How to Kill A Relationship in One Easy Step

Email can kill a relationship.

I learned an indelible lesson about written communication when I was in 7th grade Spanish class. No- we didn’t have email back in the Stone Age,  but bear with me. My mother had taught me to NEVER put anything in writing that wasn’t meant to be read by many, with the exception of writing in my journal. But in a moment of frustration and anger,  I wrote on my paper in class “Bissell is a b—-“.    I failed to see Mrs. Bissell working her way around the class and reading over my shoulder.  Busted. I  can still feel the heat as my cheeks flamed in embarrassment.  Lesson learned.

What does this have to do with email?

Email is a convenient, non-intrusive way to communicate information.   But it’s a lousy way to communicate emotion-laden messages.   It’s entirely too easy for people to “read between the lines” and inject hidden meaning where maybe there is none. Furthermore, don’t assume the message will only be read by the recipient. They can forward it, print it, re-read it, stew on it… you get the picture.  The inherent danger of email is that it’s fast. It’s too easy to fire off a message when you’re angry.  It’s easy to kill a relationship in one touch of the “Send” button.  So what’s the safeguard?

PICK UP THE PHONE.

Otherwise, you might  be like a 7th grader in Spanish class- writing something in a moment of anger and frustration that you’ll regret for a very long time.

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3 Comments on “How to Kill A Relationship in One Easy Step”


  1. Such great wisdom! I say it’s doubly true when texting. My mother used to tell me: “Never put anything into writing you wouldn’t be proud to have ANYONE read later.”

  2. Jessica Says:

    With so many more opportunities to put things in writing these days, it can be harder than ever to remember this–so much of the writing we do feels temporary (like texting, as Kathleen mentions, or Twitter or FB, etc) and that can make it feel less powerful. But it’s not. Thanks for sharing this advice, Beverly!


  3. When I was in my first couple of years teaching school, our principal drove home the point of putting very little in writing when it came to communicating with parents….for the very reasons you cite here. He said to use the phone and never put in writing the specifics of a matter. Write general statements. Speak in person the specifics.


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