A couple of weeks ago, Jen gave an awesome 7-minute workshop on media richness theory and presented helpful tips for finding the most effective way to convey your message to your audience. One key nugget from her presentation was that students and new hires at times rely solely on e-mails for communication when, in some situations, simply picking up the phone would be much more efficient and effective.
Here’s a great reminder from Dan Pallotta that the medium you use to convey your message is just as important (if not more important) than the message itself:
… [T]he way people shun the telephone these days is getting ridiculous. You used to be able to just call people. You didn’t have to be on someone’s calendar to have a phone conversation. The telephone was an important and valuable domain of communication, both for casual, friendly chats and for professional exchanges of ideas and information. But no more. It’s considered annoying — lame even, — to pick up the phone and call someone without a prior appointment. It’s too friendly. Too intrusive. If you did, you’d be considered a professional misfit. So instead, you send an e-mail to set up an appointment for the phone call. About six or seven e-mails, actually. More words pass back and forth in the setting up of the call than are required for the communication for which the call itself is intended.
You can read the rest of Dan’s post here. When you’re communicating with someone at school or at work, remember that you have numerous communication channels available to you (e.g., memos, e-mails, phone calls, face-to-face talks, instant messages, etc.). It’s ok to use the phone, especially if you need an immediate response or if you’re waiting for a response to an e-mail that you sent a few days ago.