Suggested Email Guidelines

by Tree Bressen

Recommended uses include:

  • community-building (borrowing items, ridesharing, etc.)
  • minutes distribution
  • announcements
  • logistics
  • factual information
  • background research & documentation
  • posting agendas
  • sending out drafts of proposals

    Don't try to use email for:

  • upset feelings
  • resolving interpersonal tensions
  • personal feedback about each other's behavior--unless you know the recipient prefers that
  • discussions that have significant emotional content
  • revising proposals if there is any emotional charge
  • sarcasm

    Other things to keep in mind about using email:

  • like any format, there are biases; for example, email privileges fast readers and typists, which often includes people who are more verbally articulate and express themselves in a linear way
  • remember that some people check email often, others occasionally, others not at all
  • use a clear subject line to help people filter what to read, because most people receive more emails than they can give good attention to
  • have alternate means of transmission available as needed (put minutes into a common notebook for the record, put a note in someone's mailbox if they don't do email, and so on)

    Tree Bressen, facilitator and teacher, has been assisting intentional communities, nonprofits, and other organizations with group process since 1994. Pages from her website are available for copying and distribution free of charge as long as you continue to include these credit lines and contact information.

    Tree Bressen
    Eugene, Oregon