Email is a wonderful communication tool that has drastically changed the business world over the last 15 years. The key though is to know when it is effective to use email verses when you should pick up the phone or use face-to-face communication to improve getting your message across to your listener.
Face to face communication still remains the best and most powerful way of getting our message across. When you are in a phone conversation, and especially when you are communicating via email, you are unable to experience the speaker’s other forms of communication. Body language, emotions and voice tones are all additional forms of communication which are missing when you are not speaking directly with someone. By not having these items available, you increase the chance of misunderstandings. In a live conversation, how one says something, with modulations and intonations, is as important as what they are saying. With email it is hard to get the feelings behind the words. Email and text often promote reactive responses, as opposed to progress and action to move forward.
Email often prolongs debate and too many times debates continue well beyond the point of usefulness. Situations which start relatively benignly over email can escalate because intentions and interests are easily misunderstood online. In retrospect, a simple phone call or face-to-face meeting with a person can easily reach a solution in a shorter period of time.
Email is a good method for delivering a simple message or asking for a simple request to be fulfilled. Email allows you to communicate whenever it’s convenient to you; with email you don’t have to coordinate a time to talk. Email can be a great tool to improve your effectiveness of getting business done in today’s marketplace. But when you have a situation that requires a deeper understanding of a more complex nature, are having numerous back and forth email replies about the same subject or are trying to build a relationship, a different form of communication must be used.
The next time you experience an issue over email, ask yourself if it is something that would be better served by a real conversation. Then have the courage to stop emailing and pick up the phone. Or even better, schedule a lunch.