I was faced today with the prospect of writing an email regarding a sensitive subject. The identity of the recipient and the subject in question are irrelevant; let it suffice to say that I had things I needed to explain without upsetting the recipient. However, email is notorious as a medium for making it easy to be misunderstood. There are no gestures, no facial expressions, no tones of voice to help communicate the intent of the message.
So why not just call instead? Because a live discussion requires you to think on your feet, and that can be dangerous, too. I prefer to analyze what I want to say, then say it. There is no such luxury in a live conversation.
So what does one do? I resorted to prefacing my email with this:
As email is a notoriously bad medium for having a conversation about sensitive subjects, let me just preface this with a disclaimer: If anything in this email can be interpreted two different ways, and one makes you sad or upset, I meant the other way.