Thursday, July 5, 2007

Modes of communication - Email (or) Phone?

There was a time when people communicated with mails & telegrams, only. Today, we have a variety of communication options such as phone, conference, email, sms, and chat. Effective use of these communication modes is very key for successful business - especially when your co-workers and customers are geographically separated. There is no perfect communication mode. The use of the right communication mode depends on a lot of factors including the person/group, geographic location (time zone), topic of conversation, business need, urgency of the issue, & YOU. The following are some of the things you should consider before choosing the communication mode:

When to make a phone call?
- When you think it is an urgent issue that requires immediate attention
- When it is a sensitive/confidential issue that cannot be 'documented' in email
- When you want the other person to make a decision immediately
- When you haven't received a response from the other person for your email
- When you think it is better to 'talk about the issue' instead of going back 'n forth over emails
- When you can 'articulate' better over phone as opposed to email
- When the other person has asked you to give a call
- When you or the other person doesn't have access to email

When to send an email?
- When you are not expecting an immediate response from the other person
- When you have don't have a time sensitive issue
- When you can 'articulate' better over email as opposed to phone
- When the other person has asked you to send an email
- To summarise the discussion you had with the other person over phone/chat
- In addition to a phone call, it is always good to send an email. Email can be read multiple times. If the other person didn't not get you properly during the phone call, he/she can always refer to the email.
- Phone conversations may not be very reliable at times (due to noisy phone lines, poor phone receiver, missed VOIP speech segments etc.,). You need to send emails to fill the gap.
- When you want to 'escalate' something to several folks
- When you want to 'document' an issue for future reference
- When the other person doesn't like to get bugged over phone
- At times, it is good to send an email before calling someone on the phone. It would help them to digest the contents of the email & they'll be prepared to respond back to you over phone.

When to 'chat' or 'sms' with the other person?
'chat' & 'sms' are becoming more popular these days for official communications. You can get real time responses from people & at the same time, the other person gets an opportunity to think before talking/chatting. 'chat' & 'sms' are still very informal ways of communicating with people. You need to be very cautious about 'what' you chat/sms.

- When you want to get some quick information/status from people
- When you don't want to 'archive' the communication for future reference
(Though the messengers provide support for archiving chat conversations - it is not predominantly used yet).
- When the conversation that you are having is 1-on-1 (Occassionaly, people do conferencing in chat)

The use of right mode of communication will help you to be successful in your career.

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