Six email Hand Grenades to avoid before the holidays.

20130714-103822.jpgBe honest and own up …….. Have you have ever sent a really horrible email to a colleague at 5pm on a Friday evening? Then, made it worse by switching on ‘out of office’, shutting down the computer and going away on holidays for two weeks?

It’s like throwing an email hand grenade over the wall, and running for cover.

Going away on holidays seems to be a trigger point for this sort of activity. You know how it is,….. ‘I won’t be here for two weeks to feel the pain this is going to cause,….. I might as well throw it over the wall …… and see what happened when I get back’. There must be a German word for this, something a bit like Schadenfreude.

Being on the receiving end of this sort of behaviour has occasionally sent me into an apoplectic rage, which was probably the intended impact. And, before anyone asks, YES, I am guilty of it…. in the past, when I didn’t know better. Confession is good for your soul, but only if you recognise your bad behaviour and change your ways.

With holidays approaching here six email hand grenades I think you should avoid sending just before you leave for Porthcawl or Portugal.

  1. I couldn’t be bothered to read this. Here is an email with a mountain of document attachments. I’m not quite sure if there is anything useful in them. If I send them to a dozen people, with some vague ‘see attached’ comments, someone might look at them in detail. Hopefully they will find the ‘diamond’ and I’ll then get the credit.
  2. Dump your backlog on someone else. Seen quite often. It’s those things you have held onto because ‘you are the best person for the job’, but never quite got around to doing the work. It was once important to you, now it doesn’t matter so much, so over to you…..
  3. The too hard to do. Complicated and difficult things you are supposed to do, but just can’t work out how. Here is an unsupported ‘development opportunity’ for someone else.
  4. Please have my difficult conversation. Something you should have done but couldn’t face. A great opportunity for someone else to deal with a difficult situation.
  5. I’m sorry, but…. The very worst kind of email hand grenade, giving someone some bad news, then running away.
  6. We are restructuring…. This one wins the prize as they move the hand grenade into WMD territory, ‘weapon of mass demoralisation‘. They are generally sent by a corporate lacky, just before major holidays and festivities …. ‘Here are the results of the restructuring consultation…….’ What are they thinking?

The answer is pretty straightforward in my view. Don’t throw email hand grenades. If it is difficult and you need someone to do deal with it whilst you are away relaxing, go and talk to them about it. Otherwise, don’t bother.

The thing to remember about hand grenades, is that occasionally they bounce off the walls and rebound back into your lap. You wouldn’t want that, would you…….

Late News. I’ve just had the following situation brought to my attention. Apparently some people thoroughly deserve an email hand grenade, preferably just before they go on holiday.  I couldn’t possibly condone that (sounds a bit like schadenfreude to me) unless perhaps in extreme circumstances……..

So, what’s the PONT?

  1. Sending horrible emails and going away on leave is like throwing a hand grenade and running for cover.
  2. Bad behaviour usually begets bad behaviour. If you throw email hand grenades, expect some in return.
  3. It’s a straightforward choice…….don’t do it.

Note: A hand grenade is any small bomb thrown by an individual. It’s a personal act of aggression, just like pressing the email ‘send’ button could be if you get it wrong.

Picture source: Hand grenade purse, great for coins, keys and virtually guarantees being questioned at airport security.

About WhatsthePONT

I'm from Old South Wales and I'm interested almost everything. Narrowing it down a bit: cooperatives, social enterprises, decent public services, complexity science, The Cynefin Framework, behavioural science and a sustainable future. In 2018/19 I completed a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, looking at big cooperative enterprises and social businesses in NE Spain and the USA. You can find out more here:

10 Responses

  1. Commissioners have their own version of this Chris. As the temperatures rise or the sound of sleigh bells increases……it’s the perfect time for someone about to commission a big new service to press the “Go” button on the tender. What better time to ask providers to pull together the answers to 110 questions….with appended evidence……and scores of copies of policies and procedures……than when everyone is breaking up for their summer holiday of Christmas and New Year?!

  2. Reblogged this on Good Practice Exchange and commented:
    Here’s a great blog looking at absolving responsibility via email. It’s a thought-provoking look at better communication and co-working.

    Dyma blog grêt sy’n edrych ar ryddhau cyfrifoldeb trwy ebost. Mae’n blog sy’n eich ysgogi chi i edrych ar gyfathrebu a chydweithio gwell.

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