I did it again. When someone sends me an email that has an emotional charge to it, instead of initiating a verbal discussion, I react by sending a response. I wish I didn’t, and I do try not to -- I kick myself every time and then vow never to do it again -- but it’s like having a twitchy trigger finger.

“My name is Dave, and I’m an emotional emailer.”

I recently received an email from a fellow professional, pointing out something I was doing that my correspondent disagreed with. It didn’t feel like a major issue to me, and I won’t be changing my approach, but the note itself felt petty. I sent a brief response asking for more details and got a vague response. Cue my speedy little fingers to write a message that should never have been sent.


There’s a lesson here -- or two, really.

First: Emails need to be, and stay, factual. As soon as any emotion comes into play, it is time to have a real conversation -- by phone at minimum. I frequently tell myself this, but it comes back to haunt more times than I would like. In fact, try to use phone calls rather than email whenever appropriate. I enjoy receiving phone calls and talking to people, so I need to take my own advice.

Additionally, I need to understand that my dream may be met with some objection, and that I have the capability to hurt people unintentionally. If people disagree with what I’m doing, my response should be to listen and continue moving forward, without getting dragged into a conflict. Those disagreements steal my focus away from where it ought to be: building my business.

Dave Grant, CFP, a Financial Planning columnist, is the founder of Cary, Ill.-based planning firm Finance for Teachers. He’s also the founder of Fee Only Consulting, which focuses on developing the skills of Gen Y planners. In addition, he’s the founder of NAPFA Genesis, a networking group for young, fee-only planners.