By Mindy Wolfle
Public Relations Associate, ACLD
President, Neptune Marketing LLC
In the words of Joe Gebbia, Co-founder of Airbnb, “Digital communication is completely different from in-person, face-to-face conversations. One will give you surface insights, and the other really gives you depth.”
For six years, I taught a course on business writing for non-writers in Hofstra University’s Continuing Education Program. One topic which we covered extensively was business-appropriate emails. Along with hints such as “no emoticons,” eliminating “Hey” from salutations and proper formatting (it’s a digital business letter, after all), I spoke about when NOT to email.
I used to sit in an office next to the offices of a law firm partner and an associate attorney who reported to the partner. They communicated exclusively through sticky notes and emails. I don’t know if it ever occurred to them to get out of their seats and walk the few steps to each other’s office to speak in person. What a concept!
Lately, I’ve been confronted by an excess of emails, which could have been handled more effectively with a phone call or two. The spoken word can be less misunderstood, more direct and less time consuming than a back-and-forth of emails. There, I’ve said it, too many emails! Add to that, texts which are generally not business-like and you’re covered in an avalanche of communication failure.
When did the spoken word become verboten? From my perspective, there’s a great deal to learn from a spoken conversation. The intonations of a person’s voice, the very words chosen on the fly, the emotions that come through (which could never adequately be conveyed in writing) – they amount to something greater than an email.
So, the next time you opt for an email, think twice and opt instead for a phone call. It’s surprising how we managed for so many years to communicate verbally and still lived to speak about it