It's common wisdom that you don't use email for touchy conversations, isn't it?
I've been rethinking that one. Every situation is different, but more recently I've decided if I have something to tell an associate that might be difficult to hear, email is actually a good way to communicate - IF - I make it clear I plan to follow-up verbally and invite them to call if they prefer.
Too often people use email to hit-and-run. They chose it to avoid dealing with someone's reaction and to have the last word.
But I think email explanations with an invitation to talk about a situation actually allows the other person the time to collect themselves and respond gracefully and thoughtfully. It can give them the chance to consider alternatives and even uncover possible flaws in my logic.
I've used it this way recently, and it worked the way I intended. Both times the recipient thanked me for my thoughtful email and was ready to have an open conversation about the situation I raised. Both times they actually agreed and were glad to have the opportunity to respond by saying basically the same thing from their perspective.
So don't rule out email for INITIATING touchy conversations. But don't hide behind it either.