What do you use? Email? SMS? IM? Phone?F2F?

Today  multiple modes of communication are leveraged in our professional and personal lives. E-mail, SMS , IMs or Chats, Phone call and In-person F2F meeting. Are you leveraging the right communication channel? Are your leveraging right communication channel best suited  for real life scenario? Here is my attempt to answer.

Email  are used to communicate for non-urgent matters and  scales fairly well, being asynchronous. As emails document facts, emails  qualify to be considered formal and are suitable to be prioritized, free of pressure to respond immediately. The sender is aware that he would obtain response based on receiver priority. Receiver is aware that he can schedule time to check and respond emails. Easier for both parties to develop a disciplined approach for communication over emails

Emails are ill-suited when people use emails to resolve conflicts. Emails can become nuisance when emails are used to assign tasks to individuals. In these scenarios, it is better to talk or meet person in F2F mode or Phone mode

SMS are for short messages and for asynchronous communication. Used communicate quick status or interest to other person. Examples are like reached place and do not see other person at scheduled time, keep informed of delay to arrive to F2F meeting and so on.

IMs are suited for quick short informal messages prior to F2F or phone discussion(using voice) when both parties show attention to IM,  IM becomes more efficient than a candid back-and-forth email thread.

During conference call, IM are used to share quick facts on a topic  and IM can be treated as confirmation of facts across conference call.  IMs allow teams to collaborate internally better with exchange of private messages within the team, even during a joint call with multiple teams. Any IM interaction for more than a minute or two may become tricky and for IM interaction more than two or three minutes, explore options to move to voice based IM or phone call. Let us accept that  voice is quicker/cleaner than typing!

IM Pop-ups can be distraction( Remember to set ” do-not-disturb” when necessary). They are not good to document formal responses and are to be limited to internal team discussions. IMs are efficient with customers with IM federation enabled IM of customer.

Phone calls are useful when both parties cannot wait for F2F meeting to occur, or critical issues cannot wait to be scheduled F2F. Please schedules phone calls, being aware of time loss due to unscheduled Phone calls. Either answer  unscheduled calls for less than a minute to schedule or call back unscheduled calls in planned hour. While one needs to be aware of distraction on one’s focus due to unscheduled calls, there are times where one needs to  pick up phone and  talk, instead of long  back-and-forth e-mail threads.

F2F meetings are most suited to resolve conflicts or brainstorming sessions. Too many F2F meetings can be a time-killer. Schedule F2F meetings that are truly necessary with a clear agenda communicated in advance so everyone has time to prepare. Take meeting notes and documents action items. Send notes and action items to all invitees/participants for F2F meeting. if  the magnitude of conflict increase, it is very important to have F2F meeting as soon as possible, as it has potential not to let any problems linger around!

To end, please remind yourself of the cost of the meeting to the company. Remind yourself mentally with everyone’s salary  engaged in conversation. Ensure to finish meeting early when agenda of the meeting is completed. When key person required for a meeting is not able to attend, please postpone or reschedule meeting.

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