When Only a Phone Call Will Do
If you’re in my age bracket you can easily remember a time when there was no email. If you wanted to communicate with someone there were but just a few choices. You picked up the phone and made a call, stopped by for a visit or perhaps, if time was not of the essence, you sent correspondence through the USPS.
Well all of that changed about 22 years ago when email hit the scene and today it’s definitely the communications mode of choice. Sure there is texting and people even connect with one another through various social media platforms but for the most part, email is ubiquitous.
It’s convenient and lightning fast so our reliance on it is a good thing, right? Well not so fast.
These days people “rely” on email to the exclusion of almost any other form of communication. Don’t believe me, then check your log of voice mail messages. How many calls and voice mails do you get in one day compared to the number of emails? You get many more emails, yes? Thought so!
Now I’m not saying that email is a bad thing per se but I am implying that there are business situations when ONLY a phone call will do.
• You need to provide information about something quite serious that can potentially prompt an emotional response from the person on the receiving end of the message. This type of interchange necessitates sensitivity and a nuanced approach both of which are difficult to achieve in an email.
• You require a free exchange of ideas and suggestions and while you might conceivably be able to accomplish this via email it will definitely take much longer and quite probably won’t be as engaging and fruitful as a conversation occurring in “real-time.”
• You want to convey something that is personal and emotion laden (happy or sad) and your tone is critical to communicating the situation accurately. Let’s face it. Not everyone has stellar writing skills and the ability to communicate emotion in writing is quite difficult.
If you’re worried that you need a “record” of what is being communicated then consider sending a “follow-up” email after the phone call to confirm what was discussed. By doing that you have the benefit of having the gist of the communication “in writing” but you will not have forfeited the intimacy of the call.
Email vs. phone call? Bottom-line it’s important to take a moment and really think about the correct communications tool for the job. In many business situations email might be the correct mode of choice but in others it should be apparent that only a phone call would do.