With the virtual world that we now live in at work, many, including myself, have at times fallen further victim to a reliance on email as the only channel we use to communicate and solve challenges. This needs to go on top of our to-do list: resolve to focus on more live conversations in person or by phone rather than parallel conversations through email, chat or social media channels.
We need more live conversations to occur. This is especially true when people are trying to resolve a conflict or communicate an important business decision. There is a rising and unproductive trend towards people attempting digital conflict resolution – especially by email. More accurately, email has become a convenient mechanism for issue-avoidance. It is easier, quicker, less stressful and less confrontational to have critical or challenging conversations over email versus a live one-on-one with a counterpart.
Like so many others, I have experienced too many unproductive strings of back-and-forth emails or texts that should have stopped in round two but continue indefinitely.
Emails do not sell, and emails do not solve problems. Still, too often, we hide behind it anyway. One simple good habit solves so many business problems – pick up the phone and start dialing.
“Pick up the phone and start dialing" is not just good advice for salespeople, real estate agents and stockbrokers. It is good advice for anyone.
Confront your problems head on – pick up the phone.
If you receive a customer complaint – pick up the phone.
If you want to do a survey or find out what your customers think – pick up the phone.
If you are frustrated with someone on your team and/or with someone in another business unit – pick up the phone.
It does not matter the situation. If you send an email chat, and if it is a call to action to help solve a problem – pick up the phone. Have a conversation. People solve problems when they work together and speak to each other directly.
Do you want to build your network and create relationships across business units? Good, pick up the phone.
Do you want to improve customer service? Good, pick up the phone.
Do you want to innovate and solve problems? Good, pick up the phone.
While email is one of the greatest productivity contributors, and social communication platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have fundamentally changed and positively enriched the means and reach with which we are able to interact, we must recognize that such digital channels cannot always substitute for a live conversation. Email, chat and social networking have created new connections, and even helped us deepen existing relationships, but they can rarely replace interactions in the real world.
As digital communication accelerates the pace at which people form and broaden relationships, it is also decreasing the rate at which people are willing to resolve issues professionally and directly in person. The next time you experience an issue over email, ask yourself if it is something that would be better served by a real conversation. Then have the courage to stop emailing – pick up the phone.
You are not going to solve for all challenges by yourself. You need people. You need to talk with them, to collaborate with them and to work with them. And the fastest way to get that started is to pick up the phone and start dialing.