Scott Young, a frequent contributor to PickTheBrain, has a great post up on a his personal blog that deals with an issue I’ve been facing recently.
Email, for many purposes, is a terrible form of communication. Scott’s main reasons:
- Email is One-to-One. Although you can use Reply to All and mailing lists, email works best between two people. This means group conversations are difficult to continue.
- Email is Time Delayed. Conversations work best when there is a rapid flow of feedback. If your messages are hours or days apart, this makes chatting difficult.
- Email is Written. While there are written mediums of communication that work well for chatting, it is never as good as human speech. Text removes the tonality, body language and subtle cues that make a conversation interesting.
- Email is Bloated. People already get too many emails. Adding to that pile lengthy conversations means your messages will get ignored or skimmed.
I couldn’t agree more. We tend to rely on email because it’s convenient and universal, but if you aren’t careful it can ruin your communications. There are just so many opportunities for confusion and, in terms of building relationships, it’s terribly inadequate.
Much of my new job involves forming partnerships with people I’ve never met in person. I’ve found email is a good way to initiate contact, but once a conversation starts it’s a bad medium.
Something as simple as a 5 minute phone call (or even an IM conversation) is vastly more effective for building trust and rapport.
So if you aren’t getting the results you want from your email dialogue, try something else! And go read the full post on Scott’s blog, he recommends some great alternatives.