Are you email impaired?


May 6, 2013 by smallarmyjeff

For context:  This post was initially delivered via email.

<First name>,

You are not the only person receiving this email. If you don’t respond, I can continue my day without a hitch.  And, if you misinterpret anything here, it will not result in any missed deadlines or bad work.   Otherwise, I probably would have called you (or, you’d be hearing from me shortly after receiving this).  But, if you have a moment, I still encourage you read further.

For many, email has somehow become the be-all, end-all communications tool.  But sometimes, it’s best to just call the person.  So, if you or someone you know is email impaired, here are a few tips on when it may be wise to pick up the phone.

1.  If you need an immediate response, pick up the phone
Email is not typically viewed as an “urgent” communication (even when you do send with that annoying “urgent” flag).  If you need to hear back immediately, don’t just send an email, call.

2.  If you expect to have questions, pick up the phone
Email can be great for providing information to others, but not too much information.  If you expect that your content will be received with confusion or questions, it’s typically best to just have a real conversation.  You can then summarize the conversation with an email for reference.

3.  If you need confirmation, pick up the phone
With email, you cannot assume that your email was actually read or received.  Spam filters, email access and general volume of emails can prevent recipients from ever seeing your message.  So, if the message is important, and you need to be 100% sure the recipient gets it, you know what to do.

4.  If you haven’t spoken in a while, pick up the phone
As great as email can be, nothing can replace a real conversation.  Even if email is an option, every once in a while just pick up the phone and call.  In a time where people talk with their fingers, it’s nice to hear a voice.

5.  If you have a lot to say, pick up the phone
If you can’t say it in a paragraph or two, perhaps you should call.   No one wants to read a long, drawn out email.  Which is why I’ll stop here.

Feel free to reply or post a comment on my blog.  Or, just pick up the phone and call me.

Have a great day.



7 thoughts on “Are you email impaired?

  1. Denise says:

    I couldn’t agree more in the case of one-to-one communications. However, it’s not always practical to reach someone in the office by phone when the majority of the day is spent in meetings. I find a handwritten note left on the recipient’s desk is effective at eliciting a response. Emails are easy to ignore, but handwritten notes are irresistible. That’s old school.

  2. Bob Connell says:

    I agree Bob Connell

  3. Abby Shepard says:

    I love this post! Under the right circumstances picking up the phone not only allows for a human interaction, it can actually save time!

  4. Kathy says:

    Great post. While convenient and sometimes necessary for communicating to a big group, it can also be habit and the “easy way out.”

    Definitely reminds me of the old saying attributed to Mark Twain (paraphrased), “I’d have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time.” Woodrow Wilson was asked by a member of his cabinet about the amount of time he spent preparing speeches and he said:
    “It depends. If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation… if an hour, I am ready now.”

    • Thanks Kathy! I love that quote too. It’s not easy to be succinct, but it’s a great skill to master (if anyone can truly master it – although 140 char Twitter is helping us get there…)

  5. Tonia says:

    Completely agree! I need to live and know in the moment. I consider emails a needed “paper trail” – follow up, but not as a main source of communication. I hate when people send me an email after I’ve left them a VM… Take 2 seconds to call me, please…!

What do you think about this?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: