Good communication is the key to any successful business. Good internal communication increases productivity and employee satisfaction and decreases employee turnover. Good communication skills also help cement relationships with coworkers, customers, and partners. The better your communication skills, the better the working relationships and the easier it is to achieve company goals. Of course, communication styles vary— dramatically. It’s everyone’s responsibility to try to establish common ground to promote clear understanding.
Email, texting, and digital communication have changed the ground rules for business interaction. Email has become the “go to” medium for internal communication, largely because it maintains ongoing communication without disruption and because it creates a record of the exchange. In fact, email has become so prevalent a tool that employees are drowning in email messages. Even the simplest exchange becomes yet another message stream clogging the inbox.
The average employee sends and receives more than 120 emails each day and spends at least 3.2 hours addressing work-related messages.5
For younger employees who were raised in the age of the Internet, the volume of email and digital communication is less of an issue; it’s just part of life in the digital age. However, for the older generation that grew up using the telephone, email can be viewed as a time suck, and it is not always the most efficient way to interact. In fact, the average employee sends and receives more than 120 emails each day4 and spends at least 3.2 hours addressing work-related messages. The average worker checks email 36 times each hour. Consider how much of that time could be reclaimed using old-school communication methods such as a phone call.
How many email threads have you started that turned into an endless ping-pong back and forth? What’s the lag time on an email response, and does that delay affect your productivity? Are there times you hear “But I sent an email” as a reason you don’t have critical information when you need it? Clearly, there are times when a phone call is more efficient than an email.
Too much of the volume of email traffic is for clarification. People misread tone or intent in an email message, often filtering information through their own mood or concerns. Misinterpreting the tone of email messages is common and often leads to a lengthy exchange to clarify intent and soothe hurt feelings. These types of misunderstandings seldom occur in phone calls, because tone of voice and other verbal cues clarify meaning. In short, it’s often better to pick up the phone rather than send an email if you want quick, clear communication.