I am talking about your mode for business communication. There definitely is a great divide here. Two distinct camps on how people prefer to communicate. People will use both email and phone, but they tend to prefer one or the other. Which type of communicator are you?
Me? I am a phone person. If I get an email that is more than a simple answer, I am likely to pick up the phone and give a quick call.
Email gives you efficiency. It gives you control of your time and it allows you to communicate on your schedule instead of someone else’s. Email allows you to focus on answering a question, finishing a report or sending off promised information without the phone interrupting you.
Phone is more personal. Talking on the phone allows you to interact, listen and respond to verbal queues. It allows you to engage in the age old art of conversation. The phone allows you to discuss a problem and come to an agreement quickly.
One 2010 University of Illinois study by Illinois professor Gregory Northcraft concluded that firing off emails may get work done fast and efficiently but at the expense of personal interaction needed to breed trust. Relationships and trust building are necessary for business communication and business relationships.
A 2011 Harvard Business Review article touts for business communication “Don’t send that email, pick up the phone. With email the tone and context are easy to misread. Email and text often promote reactive responses, as opposed to progress and action. Email has become a convenient mechanism for issue-avoidance because it is easier, quicker, less stressful, and less confrontational than phone conversations.
The correct answer to the phone vs. email debate is that you really need to use both as a blended solution. Email may give the best productivity solution, but phone gives the personal touch needed in business.