Buying a car ranks high on the list things we dislike doing. There are dozens of makes and models, option lists are daunting, and haggling with the dealership is a nightmare. In spite of this, we spend a tremendous amount of time and energy pursing the best decision about the choices before us.
However, we spend very little time choosing what vehicle we’ll use to communicate. Today’s defacto vehicle is email, regardless of how effective it is. Consider the following alternatives the next time you need to communicate with someone:
- Rolls Royce – Meet (In-Person/Video). There’s no substitute for a live, real-time meeting between people. Whether this happens in-person or over a video conferencing system, the ability to communicate quickly, clarify points, and develop ideas is highly effective. It requires more effort on the scheduling end, as well as a commitment by the parties to go against the grain of modern methods. However, the added efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity all support the choice, especially for collaborative or creative communications.
- Porsche – Call (Live/Voicemail). When in-person or video conferences are not an option, consider how a phone call can add value, even if only to leave a voice mail. The speed of communication is maintained – we can speak about 150 words per minute – as well as the give-and-take of a conversation if it’s held live. Moreover, with device portability, scheduling and execution challenges are reduced. Like meetings, phone calls are most effective for dynamic or collaborative conversations.
- Freightliner – Email (With/Without Attachments). Email is the current heavy hauler of the bunch. It solves many of the hurdles live conversations face. Because it’s asynchronous, scheduling is not a challenge. The ability to narrate in the body of the email, plus add attachments, means the recipient can receive all background and supporting information in one place. Email’s dark side is that we tend to be a bit sloppy when using it, and it’s not good for creative, dynamic, or collaborative discussions. Finally, it’s a relatively slow communication vehicle because we only average about 40 words per minute when typing.
- John Deere – Text/Chat. If email changed the way we communicate, from talking to writing, then texting/chatting changed how often we communicate. (In this instance, chatting is used to denote computer-based chat programs, such as those built into Gmail and Outlook 365.) The best use for texting/chatting is to deliver short bursts of information or to request short answers to short questions. This limitation is largely due to the speed of texting, or thumbing to be more accurate. At 15 words per minute, only so much can be communicated quickly.
How We Get There Matters
The communication vehicle we choose directly impacts how quickly and effectively we achieve our goals. Every time we need to clarify or expand on an initial message, we’re losing time better spent on other efforts. Pausing to consider which vehicle will move us forward most efficiently results in less stress and more done.