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Email, phone or IM? Which one works for your communication?

Email, phone or IM? Which one works for your communication?

Email tends to be the default when it comes to communicating in an office setting. In fact, the average adult receives 122 business emails per day. While they’re great for updates, recaps, and other informational exchanges, there are many situations where email is not the most efficient form of communication. Sometimes it can slow things down or muddle an important message.

So in what situations should you resort to another form of communication?

First, ask yourself these two questions:

What is the nature of the subject? Is it informational and specific? The best route may be an IM (instant message). If there are complexities and certain particular details, then a phone call or a brief face-to-face meeting may work out significantly better. If your task requires input from multiple parties, then you may want to plan a conference call or in-person meeting.

What type of response do you need? It’s best practice to make it easy for people to respond to your message by choosing the most convenient route. Is your request urgent? An IM would be your ideal option. Do you need a detailed response? Then it might be more helpful to hop on a quick call to iron out the details.

Once you answer these questions, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the route you need to take to get the response you want. But just because you choose the right avenue of communication, doesn’t mean that you’ll be sending the right message. Consider these next tips to ensure you’re communicating efficiently.

Set the scene: Just because something is top of mind for you doesn’t mean that it’s top of mind for everyone else. You want to be sure to provide enough information to get the person you’re talking to up to speed and properly invested in the task at hand.

Be concise: Brevity is key here, folks. No one wants to read a novel (regardless if it’s sent over IM or email), so get to your point and get to it quickly. It’s best to stick to two or three questions over IM or email. If you need more clarification, pick up the phone and just call.

Manage your recipients: In today’s digital world, it’s easy to get caught up in an email chain that you really had no part in. Or maybe you did at one point but your duties for that task ended a while ago, and yet you’re still in that dreaded email thread. So to save everyone involved a headache, be sure to only keep the appropriate people in the loop. If someone needs to know certain information but doesn’t need to take any action or respond, just CC (carbon copy) them.

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