In a recent blog post, I talked about the ‘reply all’ function and why I believe people need to pick up the phone or get up from their desks and talk to people instead of emailing. Trust me, I’m guilty of this all the time. I email folks when I could just pick up the phone and get the answer or result I am looking for instantly. Email is easier and less invasive. I’m learning, however, if I want a quick answer or if what I need to discuss is complicated, it is far easier to pick up the phone or walk to that person’s office and ask. Sure, I know there won’t be a paper trail or a ‘cover your ass’ trail but it is more productive to get a quick solution…isn’t that what we are all trying to accomplish anyway?
Several years ago, I heard a Walmart executive talk about Mr. Sam’s rule for making decisions…basically something to the effect of, “Don’t make a big decision from your desk chair.” The executive went on to talk about how he had a store manager that needed to be fired. The store employees were complaining, store sales were down and so was morale. This executive could have easily fired the store manager from his desk chair that day. Instead, he got up, flew to the store and met with the store manager face to face. He learned that the store manager’s wife was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and the store manager was simply doing everything he could to stay afloat. The executive didn’t fire the store manager, he got him the help he needed and the time to be with his wife. This story stuck with me for all these years and has always reminded me to ‘get up’ and ask questions in person.
Another reason it’s good to talk in person is because tone is a very difficult thing to interpret in an email. I have the annoying habit of using way too many exclamation points in my emails (and texts, tweets, etc!)…mostly because I am trying to reflect my fun nature in the tone of my email. If a person doesn’t use exclamation points, or happy faces then sometimes tone can be misinterpreted in an email. Tone is rarely misinterpreted in a phone call or face to face conversation. There are times when you mean to inflect a stern tone in an email and the receiver misses the point all together. I promise if you pick up the phone, they won’t miss the tone at all from your voice.
Next time you start to write that email; try to pick up or get up. A few things will happen, for one, the person might actually appreciate talking to you because it is more personal than email, two, your message will be clear and concise (hopefully) and three, it’s always good to get up from our desks and walk somewhere!