Pick up the phone!
We live in a phenomenal time. We have more power to communicate in the palm of our hands or at our desks than ever before. We can send email, text, photos and faxes (they do still exist folks). We can communicate on such platforms as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. We can send an instant message. As a last resort, we could actually pick up the phone and call someone.
All of this was designed to ease communication. No longer would you be required to go see someone to talk to them. With the invention of the phone you didn’t have to be there. With the invention of email, not only did you not have to be there, but you didn’t even have to talk to the other party. That caused a problem because the speed of communication slowed down. After all, you didn’t have to answer the email right away.
Enter instant messaging (IM). At last, you can send an instant message that automatically pops up on the other person’s screen and requires an answer. You can ask questions; get answers, issue orders, whatever you want quickly and efficiently in real-time. What’s more, thanks to the copy/paste function, you can transfer that data into a Word document and have a written testament to the IM conversation. Side note: A great CYA tactic but you have severe trust issues if you actually do this.
The problem and one of my personal pet peeves? Using IM to keep from picking up the phone.
I have the following rule and I make sure everyone knows it:
If your instant message goes more than three sentences you should be on the phone with me. Don’t try to have a long conversation when you’re on instant message. Don’t try to detail the problem’s background. Don’t try to give me three options to choose from, etc, etc, etc. Send me an email or pick up the phone. In the time it takes you to type your questions, state your position or let me know what you’re planning on doing, you could have called me and we could have hashed out the issue and gone back to work – issue resolved – in 15% of the time it takes to type our back-and-forth.
Save your instant messaging for quick, easy to answer questions that require a short response. It’s not unusual for me to IM someone and ask if they’re available for a phone call.
Communication is about human interaction. Instant messaging is a tool – not a replacement for good old-fashion conversation.
Pick up the phone. You’ll save time and I’ll probably be glad to hear from you.