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The Thread

Call Me (Or Email Me), Maybe?

Do you prefer to communicate via phone or via email? What makes you decide to get off the computer and make a phone call, instead?

Call Me (Or Email Me), Maybe?

Over on 30 Second MBA, the CEO and Managing Partner at Kwittken + Company Worldwide offers his advice about when to use the phone instead of sending an email. Aaron Kwittken believes that "anything you have to think twice about it, anything you think might be sensitive, anything that you think requires your relationship skills" requires a phone call instead of an email.

The Chief Product and Technology Officer at Ask.com, Lisa Kavanaugh, says, "If I need something immediately, or there's some discussion involved, I'll definitely pick up the phone every time and I expect everyone to do the same with me."

I find people sometimes call me about things we could have dealt with quickly over email, and sometimes send me long emails that might have been dealt with more efficiently on the phone. Kwittken's remarks made me realize that I unconsciously grapple with the email vs. phone issue regularly at work. To call or not to call? That is the question.

I feel bombarded by email and haven't known that phenomenon called "Inbox Zero" in years, so I don't like to be the person who is adding to someone else's Outlook landslide. Also, it's very difficult to convey tone and nuance in a work-related email. If I feel that the other person might take offense at what I need to say, I try to use the phone whenever possible.

That said, email is so convenient—I can get through a slew of emails as I'm waiting in line for my coffee, or on the subway during my commute to work. I've also found that many people (I'm one of them) don't check their office voice mail as often as they check their email. And, I find it's easier to have notes from a conversation stored in my inbox than it is to take notes during a phone call.

One of my deep dark secrets (well, not after I publish this post): I don't like my voice. I think it sounds childish. It's not that I can't get through a phone call professionally—in the course of my work as a journalist, I've called cops and other sources. I've spoken live on radio shows via phone. I've interviewed job candidates via phone. When I need to get a read on someone (like when I'm reporting), phone is preferable (Clay Ziegler wrote an interesting article about phone vs. email interviews for journalists here). I can talk on the phone—but when it doesn't seem necessary, I don't.

How about you? Do you prefer to communicate via phone or via email? What makes you decide to get off the computer and make a phone call, instead?

[Image: Flickr user Jonas Seaman]

Answer in the comments section below.

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