The Write Stuff
September 2016 Volume 12 Issue 8
Communications 101: Email, Phone or Text?
I admit it: I learned to type on a typewriter; I’ve used carbon paper and a rotary phone with a handset attached to the base by a curly cord; and I was skeptical when first introduced to a computer, preferring to see my work on a piece of paper rather than “who knows where.”
Yes, times have changed, and even those of us who are Baby Boomers have embraced the wonders that technology brings us. That being said, it’s still a good idea to make sure you know how colleagues, clients and prospects wish to receive communications from you: via email, via text, via phone or via a combination of those three technologies.
My go-to business communications method is email, followed by phone — with texting a distant third. It’s not that I don’t text, but I find for substantive content, having an email trail accessible via my desktop, laptop and phone works best for me.
I realize other people may have a distinctly different preference, so I like to learn how they wish to be reached, especially if timeliness is a concern. For instance, some people (like me) constantly check their email, while others may look at it once or twice a day; for those latter folks, texting may be the way to go to get a quicker response. Even I ask clients to text if they have an urgent need during non-business hours.
You’ll find communication is smoother when you know the best way to reach someone, and your contacts know your preference. I recommend asking this as part of any initial meeting, e.g., “What’s the best way to communicate with you?” or “How do you want me to communicate with you?” Believe me, you’ll be glad you asked.
Social media is having a significant effect on the way people write — but is it really possible the use of sentence periods is on the way out? David Crystal, honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, said in a New York Times article that the use of the period to end a sentence is dropping, a result of the fact that text messages and instant messaging rarely use them. I hope he’s wrong, and I imagine English teachers everywhere join me.
Words for Thought
Perhaps you know one of my pet peeves is extraneous words. For instance, “that” can often be removed with no damage being done, as can “in order.” Which word do you think can be eliminated in the following sentence?
I’m going to partner together with Cubs fans across the country to support the team during its playoff run.
If you said “together” can go, you hit a home run.
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