Email is Not Enough! You Must Talk to People Too

Symptom:   You feel like you are doing a good job of communicating at work, yet somehow you always seem to miss out on the timely, fast-breaking, important information that runs through informal workplace channels.  Since you are not in the know, opportunities pass you by, leaving you frustrated and confused.

Cure:  If you can choose between talking to someone at work and writing an email to them, consider exercising your vocal chords instead, or in addition to, your fingertips.

Why it Works:  Obviously email is an important part of the workplace.  It is fast, efficient, traceable, and easy.

It is also very impersonal.  And often it is not very effective at driving results.

Why does this matter to you, the up-and-comer seeking to advance your career? Consider the following:
Conversation provides far more insight than email.
  • Written communication is inherently limited in the amount and type of information that can be conveyed.  Context, nuance, inflection, body language, and other such intangible forms of expression cannot be easily communicated with email.
  • Email exchanges cannot form a meaningful bond between people.  Without a bond between people, you cannot find synergy, or common ground, or creative solutions to problems, and other things that can grow value for you and your company.
  • People will generally say things to you that they would never write in an email (after all, email lives forever, but conversations can remain private).  If you want the "real" scoop on almost any subject, you need to talk with people.
  • Email is easy to ignore.  A person standing in front of you is much harder to ignore.
Even if you need to write an email to convey information to people, it is always a good idea to follow up verbally to make sure the point sticks.  Similarly, after a personal conversation, you should follow up with a short email summarizing your discussion, and to make sure that you document what you have both agreed to.  In both cases you are using email in conjunction with verbal discussion to maximize your effectiveness at work.

Did this tip get you off your butt and out and about talking to people?  Then tell your friends!  Share, Like, Tweet, or Email below!

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