Stop Typing And Start Talking

If you call my business phone and I’m unavailable, you will get a recording that says I respond fastest to email.
I love email. Like most business owners these days, I prefer it for my primary communications tool.

Caption: ©Tami Bone, Tributarius. Photograph. Used with permission.
Caption: ©Tami Bone, Tributarius. Photograph. Used with permission.

But email has at least three strikes against it:

  1. Junk mail filters mysteriously nab email from inboxes.
  2. People skim email, so it's not good for relaying details.
  3. Meaning is easily misunderstood if the message isn't clear.

When To Ditch The Email For In-Person, Skype, Or Phone Meetings

There are numerous situations when you must stop typing and start talking. Here are five examples.
Ditch the email when you want to eke out details of an exhibition, event, or teaching opportunity.
It's amazing what we mistakenly assume. If we take the time to ask, our assumptions can be clarified in a short conversation. Questions come up when talking on the phone or in person that never arise in email.
A trust develops when you hear someone’s voice or look into their eyes.
Ditch the email when you want to close the sale.
If someone inquires about your work and you have a number for them, pick up the phone and call. FAST!
No phone number? Send a response email asking when might be a good time to talk.
Your voice will add the personal touch absent from email.
Ditch the email when your message was misunderstood.
Words on the screen often don’t impart the meaning you intended. The reply you received makes it clear that something was lost in translation.
A phone call can clear that up right away and get you back on a path that is mutually beneficial.
Ditch the email when too many messages are flying back and forth!
A meeting, whether it’s on the phone, on Skype, or in person, can save time in the long run.
Email can interrupt your workflow. Meetings do not.
Ditch the email when the customer's order is late or lost.
You goofed or an issue arose with delivery of an order. You are ultimately responsible and need to make it right.
Dial the customer’s number and let it be known that you will take care of it ASAP.
The bottom line: We discern empathy in voices that is hard to get across in email. This empathy helps nurture trust and strengthen relationships.

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7 thoughts on “Stop Typing And Start Talking”

  1. Living on Maui, the time zone issues make email more compatible for my east coast accounts – even my west coast accounts for that matter. But I ALWAYS favor the phone over the black words on a screen if anything detailed needs discussing that will require questions/answers. One or two questions that can be answered in a short sentence makes emailing a good choice. But I will need to give a longer response – anything beyond a few questions – I want the phone. It saves SO MUCH TIME. (Keyboard free: Although I did just invest in the newest dictation program and…well – if I can learn to use it effectively, that could be a big time saver, too. I just used the dictation program to get these words written here. LOL. Brilliant! Now back to my keyboard.)
    When I get a wholesale inquiry (and it is surprising that often there is no phone number or even business name in the email – what’s up with that?!) with a phone number – I usually call immediately. Strike while the iron is hot! Plus, I do need to convey several very important parts and pieces to my business and I also interview them and screen out many who just are in the wrong location or well… I refuse a lot of inquiries for a lot of reasons. So a quick call is a huge time saver AND allows for a deeper and more meaningful (insightful) discourse.
    And I must be a rarity because almost every call starts with “Oh I just emailed you.” I always seem to need to explain WHY I have called in response to the email. Clearly not the standard these days.
    So I am so pleased with your posting here today, Alyson. As usual, you are bringing “common” sense back to the world of commerce. It’s good to know my instincts are not always “out of the box”.

  2. Sometimes communication by email is as cliche as a man trying to interrupt what the woman wants. She said this but really meant that…pick up the phone.
    I have learnt this lesson as well Alyson, thanks for the reminders.

  3. Great article Alyson! One extra tip I would like to share: Often, I follow up a detailed conversation with an email. It is a bit like taking minutes at a meeting. With the follow up email, both parties can be assured that they understood one another or opens the door for further clarity. Nothing is better than a written (or digital) copy of an important conversation. Being in a fast pace internet world, details can get lost or forgot if not written down!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Sandy: Yes! It’s great to add this extra step and to see it in writing. I even go so far as saying “Per our phone call, this is what I understand . . . Please let me know immediately if anything needs changing” (or whatever).

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