Diary: E-mail grants us the easy way out

Need to let your boss know that you failed to win that big account?

Need to let your boss know that you failed to win that big account? To tell that pesky reporter you can't possibly grant him or her an interview with your client? To break someone's heart? Try delivering the bad news via e-mail.

That, according to a study by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, is the best way to couch the blow. Plus, it will make the bearer of the news feel better. Apparently, these cold, impersonal times demand cold, impersonal ways of deflecting the task of relaying unhappy tidings.

'Electronic information delivery might be particularly useful in upward communications situations, where negative information is often distorted,' the study reads. So much for a square look in the eye and a firm handshake.

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