Sep 2, 2009

Emails versus phone calls or face-to-face communications

A British study in a company show that 56% of employees thought that e-mail was overused, since a telephone call or a personal communication could have been better.

In other words, could we says that around 50% of the e-mails managed daily in a company can be ineffective (from a communication point of view)?

When we use an e-mail to request information that is very important for us and we don’t receive an answer, we usually call by phone to make sure that the recipient is aware and provides a response.

Isn’t this a way of acknowledging that the e-mail we sent didn’t fulfill its objective, or that it potentially failed?

If we call a meeting via e-mail and the people don’t go, it is obvious that the communication objectives of this e-mail were not achieved. Therefore, many of our written messages are followed by "follow-up" telephone calls which at times become like a hunt.

Many people get anxious not knowing if the recipients understood the message, or if they grasped its urgency. This almost always translates into re-work because the sender invests additional time to call the recipient to see what he/she understood.

In situations like these, I suggest that you act carefully, no matter how anxious you feel, because in some cases a telephone call can be perceived as excessive and inappropriate pressure or that you are indirectly telling them that they are incompetent in their management of e-mail.

The stress produced by the great number of e-mails is part of a communication overload, with serious negative consequences on the productivity of work teams.

Actors in this drama are: Multiple phone calls (at the office, on the cell), text messages, the “Blackberry”, chats, and Skype calls.

See the study A simple approach to improving email communication...

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