Think through the standard contact you have with folk when you’re at work. The ones that just can’t cruise past your physical location, do you prefer to hear from them via a phone call or via email?
For me it’s always email. I can get to their message in my own time, structure a better response and I have a built in audit trail of who said what. I’m getting to the stage of thinking phonecalls are just rude. But is that just me?
Email just wins out over phone calls for me. Emails tend not to interrupt the flow of work as much as phone calls can. But there are times that I do pick up the phone when I know the answer is a bit too complicated for an email – or some more immediate confirmation is needed.
Email all the way. Fortunately I work part-time so people who work in my office are in the habit of assuming I’m not there and have been trained to use email as their first approach. I still get the occasional voicemail from external sites, but usually once they hit my message about what days I work, they email me instead.
I do a lot of email, but nothing beats working the phones when I gotta win people over. Even better when I can go press the flesh. I think people get so used to email being about what’s most convenient for me, that they lose sight of using the right communication skills at the right time. Increased use of IM in the corporation is also changing the landscape somewhat.
I’m guilty of using email too much, and catching myself sometimes sending emails when it would be much more effective to pick up the phone.
I’ve worked for decades of trying to get people in a 12 hour timezone difference (fucking new yorkers, no offence but seriously I’ve never met a bigger group of only work between 9 and 5 people ever. And that has cut across companies, industries and positions) to respond to emails. If I had a dollar for everytime I get a “need more information” (translation: I have too many emails in my inbox to be fucked to answer this one).
I prefer email but I don’t like talking on the phone much at the best of times let alone while trying to work. One guy I work with has a novel approach - he prefers talking on the phone but got sick of the amount of time he wasted ringing people who weren’t there. So now on our internal email/calendar system he just sends people a “missed phone call” message and waits for them to ring him. If they are at their desk he gets his call straight away, if not he saved himself a wasted call.
Definitely email at work - most of what we do is classified so we can’t discuss it on the phone anyway. The choice is email or walking to the other person’s cubicle. Walking may not sound like that big a deal, but we’ve got a 3-building complex linked by a couple of hallway/walkway areas. It can be quite a hike if you go from the far corner of the first building to the farthest corner of the 3rd building.
Plus via email, you’ve always got a record of the conversation/exchange. With my memory, it’s a good thing to have.
I like email and I use it a lot. It is a way to keep track and to CYA if needed but it also bridges a gap between co-workers if they are team players. For much of my employment at my current job I was not part of a team. I was a loner who was let to my own. I am now part of a six person team and I find it works better sometime to just get off my ass and walk to their desk and speak in person. It lets me get to know them better and them to know me better.
I use the phone for quick questions or responses. I also use it when I feel an email may be to drawn out and a phone call would be a better way to communicate the answer or the question.
I also judge who I am communicating with. I know pretty well if I email that I am going to get a one line answer that is not going to be very helpful and will just create a thread of emails that are a mile long that could be avoided by picking up the phone. In some of these cases if it is a CYA issue or may become one then I draw up an email outlining the information from the phone call as understand it and then send that email as a confirmation that I am understanding the procedure correctly. That way I do have documentation so it won’t become a he said/she said problem later.
This also helps me keep a saved record should the problem arise a year later. We have had issues that happen once a year or a task that is only done once a year so it helps in that way as well to refer back to the email to confirm that things are done properly.
We have IM, e-mail, and phone at work. Phone works for quick calls in the office for questions.
IM works for quick questions with people in the outer offices. E-mail goes for other stuff. I have found, if I get irritated with someone, e-mail is better for me. I will be less apt to say something I’ll regret over the phone, and I can take a few minutes, type out the response I wish I could give, then back space and type out the response I must give. Of course, if we’ve e-mailed back and forth and gotten nowhere, I will pick up the phone.
I also like email for the documentation aspect, as others have mentioned - it’s great for followups when the other person and I are agreeing, for example, on certain parameters for a project. “I have elevation 260.0 for the spillway and 264.0 for the top of dam”. Print that out and in the file it goes.
OTOH a phone call is indispensible when discussing some things - for example, we’re both looking at the same drawing and one is explaining some aspect to the other. “Do you see this ridge along the property boundary? We need to swing the alignment to the west in order to miss that”.
In order to have effective communication, I use them both.
Gosh, I hope that’s just you! I wouldn’t want to give either one up.
Completely depends on the purpose of the interaction. Email is great for requests that have a yes/no answer, or I’m looking for something factual. Or passing along something factual, especially if I am conveying a lot of information. Why should the person have to take notes about what I am saying?
I still use the phone (or get up and walk for an actual conversation) if it’s more about getting someone else’s insights or working through a problem. I can revise and respond at every point. Plenty of times someone says something at the front end of the conversation that makes me shift gears on how I was planning to approach the following 10 aspects of the issue – I’m glad I didn’t spend the time putting that all in an email. I’m better at making sure we’re on the same track if we’re talking, and I can pick up on all my coworkers’ tells.
I’m big on a paper trail, so I like people to email with important stuff. It helps them to take responsibility for what was said. I am big on responsibility. When I tell my staff something, I always follow up with an email so that if things go wrong, they can always show that I told them to do it.
But phone makes it easier to get all the information out. Real talking is still better than written word IMO.
It doesn’t come up in my work (though I do email myself reminders…) but I am involved in various committees and groups and for that prefer email.
I can send a message 2 all 8 board members in the time it would take to convey half the information to one of them by phone.
The big benefit for me is not to have the chance to be sucked into chit-chat. I really don’t miss having one of them say something like “Oh you caught me just coming out of the shower”. That never comes form the ones you wouldn’t mind picturing naked.
I get too many e-mails a day (about 150) to keep close track of all of them. Hell, I don’t even read all of them based on their subject line. I have actual work to do on top of that. I certainly could not take more than 20 phones calls a day and stand a chance of getting anything done. However, sometimes someone I am ignoring really needs my advice or for me to do something. In those cases, a phone call can move things right along. We have work IM as well. I don’t like that much at all and I am glad that mine crashes many times a day. Everyone knows that it is hit or miss whether they can reach me that way or not so it keeps it under control.
Most of my fellow analysts are talented but they way overcommunicate in my opinion. They sit there talking on the phone most of the day while carefully responding to every single e-mail and using IM to fill in the gaps. That would be fine except there is supposed to be an actual end result of work being done out of all of that. I guess that is why they are stuck working nights and weekends and I am generally not except to help them get their work done.
Email. My work requires concentration and a phone ringing is really, really disruptive. If I have to answer the phone I’m put out at the sudden adrenaline rush from the scary sudden sound of the ring, and disoriented at losing my train of thought. Not a good way to start a conversation.
IM, now, that’s okay.
I sometimes daydream about an alternate reality where emails and IMs were invented first, and then the phone was just a novelty for people who are weird.