We’re a wired society with all the latest tools to help us communicate quickly and easily. We can send emails to anyone even at 3 a.m. if we want, but maybe don’t expect an immediate response. We can tweet out event photos to people half-way around the globe, in real time as it happens. We can carry on discreet conversations during a meeting and exchange ideas about what we’re hearing, all without speaking a word.
But could there be times when these communication time-savers are actually huge time-wasters that could damage relationships? We’re so used to firing off an email or a tweet that we sometimes forget about a retro communication tool that’s highly effective and still necessary: having real-life conversations. Do you know when to skip the email and opt for this oldie but goodie? You might be using the wrong tool if…
- You find yourself caught in “the song that wouldn’t end,” sending multiple emails back-and-forth about the same topic with no end in sight.
- You find yourself spending too much time on a task that should have been pretty straight-forward, like setting up a meeting date/time.
- You have to communicate complex information to a number of different people who all want to share their diverse and lengthy points of view…yup, by email.
- You have a number of themes, topics or ideas to communicate which increases the likelihood the recipient will respond to some but not all, resulting in…you guessed it, more follow-up emails.
- There’s room for email misinterpretation. If in doubt, leave email out. Who knew that seemingly innocuous email would result in sounding the alarm for email reinforcements, and a barrage of angry responses and frowny-face email signatures?
- You have something highly sensitive and emotional to communicate like “Hey, you don’t work here anymore” or “I’m sorry I took credit for your PowerPoint presentation.” I know, it’s uncomfortable, but the higher the emotional stakes, the more you’re going to have to bite the bullet and have that face e-to-face conversation.
- You’re emotions are going crazy and you run the risk saying something you might regret – something that can be forwarded and shared over and over, long after you’ve come and gone.
These are just a few examples, but it’s important not to get sucked into the false belief that the easiest way to communicate is the most efficient or effective. In a world that demands more and faster, make sure your investing your time and energy in using the right tools.