Everyone at one point has received an e-mail (or 500) and thought, “What’s wrong with [insert name]?” As a medium, e-mail invites misunderstanding. It gives the appearance of in-person communication sans critical non-verbal cues.
Studies have found that the context and emotion of in our e-mails are only fully received about 50 percent of the time. Yes, its a coin flip. It’s a major point in my forthcoming book.
Looking Beyond the Data
I can cite stats like these all day long, but I find that stories are often just as valuable in making salient points, perhaps more so.
I recently interviewed Marillion keyboardist Mark Kelly. We chatted a bit before recording, talking about football, boxing, and e-mail as a communications medium. Kelly revealed something that shocked me a bit: Even for a band that’s been together for more than three decades, e-mail occasionally engenders misunderstandings. Let me repeat that: Guys who have known each other for a really, really long time communicate better in person compared to rattling off electronic messages.
What does that say about communications among new employees?
E-mail ≠ Understanding
This doesn’t mean that e-mail is inherently ineffective or inimical. On the contrary, it’s an extremely useful but limited medium. Relying exclusively on it is rarely wise. Sometimes talking is a good idea.
Pick. Up. The. Phone.
What say you?