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Communication: Which Way Is Best?

With so many different ways to communicate, it can be hard to know which method to use in the business environment.

My grandmother likes to gossip. OK, I do too … a little. However, my chosen profession has greatly curtailed my gossiping activity. Grandma is still good to go. My Dad used to say to me, “Lisa, there are three ways to communicate, telegram, telephone, and tell your grandmother.” 

Obviously, that was a number of years ago. In addition to the aforementioned, we now have e-mail, voicemail, instant messaging, texting, faxing (though that is going the way of the dinosaur), scanning and more. Just because all of these methods are available does not mean each one is always an appropriate efficient way to communicate.

E-mail has many positive aspects; it also has its downside. There are many times I need to find information in an e-mail and, if I have not deleted it, I can pull it up quickly, get what I need and move on. E-mail is a great way for you to have a trail for documentation purposes. If a communication exists in e-mail form you do not have to rely on memory for what was said and when it was said. 

On the other hand, sometimes there is just too much back and forth. For example, you send an e-mail with a document. The recipient e-mails back with questions. You send back answers along with questions you have and so on.  At some point it makes more sense to pick up the phone and have a conversation. 

Some people just insist on e-mailing. I know a woman who sits right outside of her boss’ office; he emails her all day. I have left voicemails for people who answer via e-mail. If it’s a client, I suggest adhering to their preferred method.  If you are the client, the vendor should do the same for you.   

Texting is another method that has crept into the business world. In some companies employees routinely use texts. As with one’s personal life, the issue of texting while driving is of concern in the workplace as well. When you are driving and hear the “bing” of an incoming text it is tempting to take a quick peek. As important as your clients are, it is more important for you, and those around you, to be safe. If it is imperative that you read and reply, pull over someplace safe to do so.         

The other day I received an e-mail responding to a job posting that read, “I am looking to relocate to New York City as soon as possible. Please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX or e-mail me at XXX to schedule an interview. I am also available for a Skype or FaceTime interview if that is more convenient for you. Thank you for taking the time to review my resume. I look forward to talking with you.”

I thought it was great that he offered different options. We’ve come a long way from the resume on the “nice” paper. But – I will admit, I am still impressed when I receive a hand written thank you note after an interview. Technology is amazing, and has vastly changed the way we communicate, but it will never replace the personal touch. 

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