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When to Email and When to Pick Up the Phone
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Email is the lifeblood of many home-based and other small business opportunity and franchise owners.  It enables you to create and manage ongoing customer and supplier relationships quickly and efficiently like never before. 

But beware!  Before you jump on email to communicate with someone else, you may want to take a moment to ask yourself whether or not it’s the best approach given not only the subject matter at hand but the purpose of your exchange.  The fact is that choosing email over picking up the phone can actually be costly, in terms of not only time and money but emotional energy as well.  In extreme cases, it could even cost you your livelihood.

Email’s Downsides

One of email’s greatest strengths is in its ability to serve as a written record of what transpired between two parties.  But having a written record of something works two ways.  If what you’re going to write in an email is not something you’d want shared with anyone else, don’t write it.  If there’s even a remote possibility that what you write could come back to haunt you, email is not the way to go.

While it’s true that emailing is oftentimes more convenient than making a phone call, the potential for misunderstanding can and does run rampant.  If there’s even the slightest chance that what you’re communicating via email could be misinterpreted by the person on the receiving end then is it worth the time and energy you’ll have to expend cleaning up the mess you’ll make?  The answer is probably not.  Maybe it’s time to make that call.

When it comes to expediency, you may think that email is going to save you valuable time.  As a sender in need of immediate gratification that might be true.  After all, you just write or ask what you need when you need to and get it out of your court and into someone else’s.  The catch comes when you need a timely response to something.  Now you’re on someone else’s schedule, which can be infuriating.  Making a phone call enables you to get feedback immediately or, if nothing else, convey a sense of urgency in ways that email does not, all of which increases the likelihood that you’ll get what you need when you need it.

And last but not least, nothing beats the telephone when you want a number of people to be in on a conversation or the decision making.  Yes, you can work via email, but most nuances are lost when communicating in writing as opposed to in person.  And if you think the loss of those shades of grey in presentation go out the window when the exchange is one-on-one, group dynamics in this regard are a whole other ball game.  The fact is that not talking in person when there are a lot of players can be terribly inefficient and frustrating.  The better option would be to hold a conference call and have a designee reiterate in writing via email or by some other means what was said and any decisions that were made.

At the end of the day, there’s no question that email has its strengths.  At the very least, it allows you to avoid phone tag, review what you’ve written for accuracy, maintain unilateral control over what is being discussed initially, send attachments and include any number of recipients.  And of course it does provide that written record that was mentioned earlier. 

But the fact is that there will always be a place for what we now know as the telephone or some advanced version thereof.  Let’s just hope that as technological innovation continues to astound us we maintain our ability to assess our growing number of options wisely and use them to our greatest advantage, both in business and at home.

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