7 Reasons to NOT use e-mail for urgent messages

Reason #3: It can actually take LONGER to fully communicate your message

As discussed in the last blog post, sending a message is only one part of the communication we’re trying to achieve. Ensuring that our recipient(s) have firstly received and secondly understood the message, in the same way as we sent it, is the other part of communicating effectively.

As we can see on the diagram below, the quicker the mode of communication used, the less ‘richness’ it has and the greater the potential for misunderstanding.

Of course, there are times when e-mail will be quicker than using the phone. If you wanted input from a half a dozen colleagues on an idea or proposal, a quick e-mail might take only 10 minutes in total (5 mins to send and 5 mins to scan their responses). The same communication by phone could easily take 35 mins or more (5 mins speaking to each colleague plus another 5 mins to consolidate and digest their feedback).

So if speediness of sending the message is the sole measure of effectiveness, then e-mail is obviously the winner. But only if the message is clearly understood the first time it is read! How many times do you send a single e-mail that becomes 3 or 4 or 5 e-mails back and forth (over a number of days) as you try to establish clarity and understanding of the original message?

So, while e-mail can be quick to send at your end, it may often actually take LONGER to complete the communication loop by the time clear understanding has been established; it would have been better to use a different mode of communication in the first place!

With the pace and pressure of modern business, we are often in a rush and try to deal with things quickly at the ‘front end’, but then often pay a bigger time penalty at the ‘back end’ of the process, as we follow up, chase up and clean up communications that didn’t have the appropriate level of ‘richness’ when they were first sent.

So that’s the third of the 7 reasons to NOT use e-mail for urgent messages. Our next blog post will look at the synchronicity of e-mail and the impact it has for you as a sender.

All the best,

Steuart Snooks