Phone conversation? Or should you text? Or email?

When you can’t be face to face, sometimes the way you transmit a message makes all the difference. The phone is great for communication, but sometimes, especially when you’re busy, it would be better to receive a nice text right away rather than pick up the phone and hold it, especially if it involves going into voicemail and then writing down info–or, if it isn’t urgent, you could get an email instead and have it there to read at a time that most suits you.

Yet, of course, there are times when somebody wants to do a conversation by text, which can be annoying when a phone call is much more natural to the way we talk face to face.

Each of these mediums of communication has its benefits and drawbacks. It’s a question of which one fits. So, this blog post asks, “when does a phone call work best?”

  • Do you have a lot to talk about and does it need to be heard ASAP? Then you will probably want to call. You need to talk your friend out of going to that seminar on the heuristics of didactic psychology, it’s a bore and a rip-off. But she’s going tonight, in a couple of hours, and you aren’t gonna see her! Even if you do send her a text message, it will probably say “call me.”
  • Is the subject matter open-ended? Are you picking someone’s brain? Are they picking yours? Email can be ok for this kind of exchange if you don’t mind a more drawn-out conversation, but still, most people talk much faster than they type. Rapid back-and-forth communication is much more easily done orally than via keyboard.
  • Is the other person reasonably responsive via phone? Do you get them a good percentage of the times you call, or do you hardly ever get through? When you leave a voicemail, how long does it take for them to respond? Perhaps less noticed but still important: how do they respond? Do you always get a text or email saying “I got your message…” rather than a return phone call? That’s usually a good sign that they aren’t a phone-lover.
  • Is there sentimental value to your communication? It often means a lot to hear somebody’s voice, especially if you miss them. Moreover, precisely because a phone call ties you to the phone and makes it hard to focus on other things, a phone call says, “you are important enough for me to put down my daily grind for a bit and pay attention to you.”

This is important to project positive energy because you want to connect with people via the best means possible. Planning which medium to use says “I thought about your situation before contacting you,” communicating respect and consideration. And, like anything else, the better you get at this kind of thing, the more automatic it will be.

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