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Communication Failure: Why You Should Leave Email Aside And Pick Up The Phone More

10-Jun-2016 17:04:55 Business insider
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Attempting to communicate

Communication sounds like a simple matter, you might say. How many of us have sat in the same office though next to someone, and emailed them instead of actually speaking to them? Most of us, right?

In today’s fast-paced workplace, we can all be confronted with a painful paradox. We are faced with the continuous pressure of accelerating workload and projects, but this “need for speed” can result in communication failure. Moreover, this communication failure can lead to dangerous effects such as risking quality and value of work.

The most effective communication method is the good, old-fashioned person-to-person, face-to-face talking. You might turn around and tell me: ‘but it’s not that simple, we have team members who are dispersed and face-to-face communication isn’t always possible’.

While this is a well made claim for most organisations nowadays, I bet your bottom dollar that communication between team members located in the same office still isn’t as effective and open as it could or should be.

Perhaps we just got so used to emailing members in co-located offices, that we forget we could actually stand up and have a face-to-face conversation with those people sitting right next to us. We could even say that we’ve become a bit lazy.

The good thing is that with the modern technology we have in today’s world, we can implement different ways to make communication more effective for everyone.

There are numerous tools out there that let us exchange pieces of information with colleagues. We have email, we have Skype, we have video calls, we have the telephone, we have other apps and channels (such as Slack), and ways of communicating even with those who are in dispersed teams.

But are we using all these methods available to us in an effective manner, making communication as good as possible? Could we do better? Could we pick up the phone more? Have a Skype chat with video, instead of sending that email?  

I know I could. In fact I had a situation today where I was getting quite frustrated with another colleague. I thought they didn’t help me with a task in the way I was hoping for, which is why I was initially going to send an email to this colleague located in another office. But, for a change, I decided to pick up the phone and have a chat about the matter.  

Thinking about it now, I realise that the email I would have composed would have been written with a lot of frustration behind it. This could have come across very badly to my colleague, and would have surely caused tension, and eventually even more frustration for both of us.

Making that personal phone call instead of writing an email made a lot of difference, and the concerns I had were cleared up instantly. Although I love a good email to keep track of things, that personal touch, hearing the other person’s tone of voice, and having that polite conversation, makes a big difference to working better as a team.

We are all guilty of pinging over an email without even saying ‘Hi’.  Picking up the phone, or using Skype video/call gives much better interaction between you and your colleagues. Even more than that, you’d be surprised what you can find out about the people you’ve worked with for years, by using these ways of communication.

Have a go and try varying your approach. What worked for you or me today may not work tomorrow. The daily conference call you set up three months ago to address communication challenges between distributed team members may not be needed now that people have built that communication workflow, using a chat app together, or making impromptu calls when needed.

Strive to follow the most effective communication technique applicable to your situation, but don’t get lazy!  Even the best tools need people to use them correctly in order to be effective.

So now I challenge you: Set yourself a goal to change the way you communicate with others in your organisation.    

Day one (start now):  get off your seat, go and speak to at least one person face-to-face instead of sending them an email.  

Day two:  let’s try doing this again, but with two people. Or even the same person, but try talking to them twice.

Day three: try picking up the phone and having a conversation with a colleague from another office instead of sending them an email.

Day four: why not try a Skype call with video today?

By the end of the week, see what differences these new initiatives have brought to the relationship between you and your colleagues, and if communicating in other ways gives you a more effective way of working.   

Have fun, and do let us know how it worked out for you!


Alison Bray

Alison Bray

Alison is a highly motivated and passionate administration support professional, currently working as HR & Training Coordinator for Radtac. Alison started her career as an administrative support professional, obtaining her NVQ levels II & III in Business Administration, and has continued to support companies and teams within the Business Support field for over 10 years. Read more