Comparing the phone call to email above seems like an easy, efficiency-based decision, right? If only that were the way we made decisions. Alas.
As Baratunde Thurston beautifully describes in Fast Company we claim to text and email as a means of being efficient. In actuality, we also use texts and emails as a means of control.
To that point, a Facebook page called “Yes, I got your text – I just don’t feel like responding!” has over 81,000 likes. We like to respond at our own leisure, on our own schedule, and in a way that minimizes our chances at discomfort.
So when a co-worker emails to check in on whether I’ve finished something? I can respond later. Maybe the other person will even take care of it.
Responding to a voicemail? I can do it over text instead.
Asking someone out on a date? If I do it over text, at least I won’t have to risk seeing her reaction.
Sound familiar? Surely you can add to the list as well.
This mentality isn’t inherently bad. At the same time, you shouldn’t hide behind technology. You are leaving a lot on the table if you fail to leverage face-to-face relationships. When you rely on texts or emails, you pass up the chance to establish report with another person. Your message easily becomes lost as it blends in to a sea of email and text requests.
A friend of a friend works for one of the world’s truly giant corporations – offices on six continents, over 300,000 employees globally. He has been promoted largely on the basis of his “interpersonal prowess.” His big secret? Instead of emailing, he stands up, walks to his co-workers’ desks and talks through the project. No emailing. No waiting for others to return his email. No guessing the tone of voice. Just actual, face-to-face conversation.
At Decker, our suggestion is to rise above the temptation to rely upon computer-mediated communication. Look for ways to engage in person, resorting to technology only when necessary. If you are a remote employee, find a way to stop by the office. Let people see your face. Allow people to remember you’re a likable person, not another task in their inbox.
This week your homework assignment is to replace one email/text with a phone call this week. If you are close enough to drop-by, try replacing one email/text with an in-person interaction. You will quickly spot situations where face-to-face communication is more efficient and beneficial than text or email.
When have you used emails and texts as a means of controlling your communication?
How can you vary that routine this week?