I’ve lost count of the number of misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and attenuated outcomes created via the tips of my fingers. No, I’m not talking about lackluster essays here on LinkedIn, I’m speaking to the thousands of emails typed each year by yours truly.
Here’s the truth: when it comes to making stuff happen, email can’t hold a candle to talking. The root issue is that email makes it difficult to recognize critical communication signals such as humor, fear, anger, defensiveness, kindness, curiosity… add your own to the list. Empathy gets stymied. The generative give-and-take of an in-person conversation devolves into a disjointed, inefficient volley of keyboard strokes.
Thankfully, there’s a better, if back-to-basics way. It’s a productivity hack that riffs on that age-old military saying, “never stand when you can sit”:
Never email when you can call
Never call when you can video chat
Never video chat when you can face-to-face
Whenever possible, talk. Listen. Talk some more. Digest. And then talk again.
Yes, plain old talking is the ultimate productivity hack in situations involving anything beyond your quotidian routine. Why? Because crafting solutions to new problems demands the highest fidelity communications possible. Success comes from grappling with the most important issues via the energetic collaboration of warm-blooded human beings, each a wonderful mélange of hopes, fear, talents, and foibles. Imagine a master communicator like Bill Clinton using email to bring a tense negotiation to conclusion—that sounds crazy, right? So why let email limit your own potential for success? When you choose to communicate with your voice and eyes and body, the rich interplay of human communication dynamics becomes a tool at your disposal, instead of a strike against your goals.
For sure it’s easier to type than it is to dial the phone, and talking can be daunting when the subject is polarizing. But when you dash off a quick email you voluntarily cede ability to hear the very nuances of expression that you need to shepherd a conversation along to greatness. You’re trading off long-term productivity for in-the-moment expediency.
True, email is still for the best option for some things: simple “yes or no” questions (though you might miss an opportunity to ask a better one); committing a verbal agreement to the record; and delivering a message to an audience at scale. In other words, use it as a tactical tool of necessity, just not when you need to make magic happen.
Here’s ultimate reason to just go call someone: Our life experience is shaped by the relationships we keep and the interactions that flower from them. More talking and more listening can only help deepen those relationships and lead to richer, more meaningful outcomes for all.
So, next time you’re tempted to let your fingers do the talking, try taking a stroll down the hall instead.
Source: linkedin.com | January 21
This post is part of a series in which LinkedIn Influencers share their secrets to being more productive. See all their #productivityhacks here.