I have worked in the executive search/employment industry for a very, very long, time. I started my career during the time when there was this thing known as the pink message slip. I can still remember coming back hurriedly to the office, from lunch or a meeting, to see which clients had called. I always had a tendency to go through the slips to find the “hot prospects.”
Then, along came the ability to fax. Wow! This was really state of the art stuff! Now, I had customers who would say, “fax me the resume, then I will call you.” Wow…how progressive! But, it did slow down the telephone communication process a little…really, only very little.
Oh my goodness, then people started telling me about this new “space-age” technology called e-mail. E-mail – how unbelievable it was to us all! Think about it from a work perspective…forget about worrying about the phone call; now you could just communicate by e-mail. This technology had a really, really negative impact on the use of the telephone in business. No more calling…even if you were in the next cubicle, you should just e-mail me. The truth is though that e-mail, when not used effectively, actually slowed down communication. You had to wait for the return e-mail – this could take until tomorrow or next week. No one ever thought of picking-up the phone; they just sent another e-mail to see if you received the first e-mail.
Can you imagine what we all thought, when we heard about texting? Now, you would actually use the cell phone, but not talk. Can you imagine this! I have a smart phone, but I am too smart to call you and use the phone. I will just “text” you. Why would we even think of using a cell phone for calling when we could just text? Now we have e-mail and texting and there’s no need for the phone…right?
In business there are many reasons you should still pick-up your phone and actually talk.
- E-mail and texting are not the same as a phone call.
E-mail and texting do not convey your message, as it would sound if you were speaking. I get an e-mail message and it says “Joyce, I will get back to you about the issue.” Okay, what does that short and terse-sounding response mean? Are you angry at me? Am I bothering you or imposing?
- The “forward button” really can be dangerous.
Hey folks, have you never heard of the “forward button” when you e-mail. If you are upset or have an opinionated feeling about your company, your boss, or an issue, the forward button could be the end of your career. Do you know how many e-mails end up in the human resources department? Managers who receive e-mails that seem to be controversial or adversarial will pass them on to HR. Really? Do you really think these e-mails all remain confidential? I had e-mails forwarded to me, unknowingly by the person who sent the e-mail, about why they would not hire a person with a disability – my life’s work. Try the phone when you have a subject that you do not want misunderstood— it’s always a better choice.
- E-mails frequently have spelling or grammar mistakes.
Many times, I have known of a candidate for employment that a hiring manager really likes, until they receive an e-mail with spelling errors or grammatical errors. Everyone has a tendency to type quickly and forget to spell-check and proofread. When you pick-up the phone and talk to someone, you will avoid this pit-fall. By the way, learn to use English rather text language or short-cuts…it really is annoying.
- E-mail does not amplify your “personal brand”.
Without talking to you, the person you are trying to sell or impress will never get the best of you and know your “personal brand.” Others cannot hear your friendly voice or warm phone personality. Also, you will not get a full impression of them. There are so many times in my career that the person behind the phone was so different than the person behind the e-mail.
- Conquering fear of direct communication builds leadership skills.
Many employees or managers do not use the telephone for one reason – fear. It is so much easier to be curt, rude or upset by e-mail. When you speak to someone, it is much more direct and more of a challenge for many people. If you want to be a leader, you cannot fall into this trap. Have courage and pick up the phone.
Using the phone will lead others to believe you are unique – you communicate. This will afford an advantage for your career and will amplify the impact you have in your work and in your life.
By the way, if you have something to talk to me about, please call me.