There are many benefits of sending an email, when compared to verbal communication. Email is really the best of both worlds – it can be super quick when needed, and you also have the ability to spend time and really think about what you are going to write. However, with all these positive aspects of email, it’s not always the best form of communication. I did my best to explain in words below (see what I did there?).
Email can create misinterpretation – As we continue to dive head first into the technology age, people will continue to prefer text, email, and writing, over more traditional face-to-face or oral communication. This isn’t always a bad thing, but unlike talking to someone in person, your words can be misinterpreted through text and email. When you’re talking to someone face-to-face you’re looking them in the eyes, noticing slight facial gestures, differences in tone of voice, and taking in their body movements. These four abilities disappear once you begin writing an email – which creates a disadvantage for the sender and receiver. Depending on your writing style, or who you’re sending an email to, simple commands or questions can be misinterpreted and taken out of context.
You can overthink the message – I actually listed this as one of the benefits of email during the first paragraph – but let it be known that it can be a double edged sword. You see, writing a detailed, well-thought-out email can be great when you’re a perfectionist, or if you want to show the receiver you actually care about the message. For the person on the other end however, this “time” to think can be a nightmare. In addition to misinterpretation, re-reading the same message can create problems that may not actually exist. When you have a face-to-face conversation, you listen to the person you’re talking to, then you respond, within seconds. When you read an email, you read the message more than once – sometimes too many times. It’s easy to overthink the message, when you may have misinterpreted the message to begin with.
Don’t send the wrong message – Sometimes only sending an email can actually send the wrong message. Have you ever applied for a job and only filled out a questionnaire? If you have, I’m guessing it was for a position that didn’t carry many responsibilities. Some messages absolutely require verbal face-to-face communication. Imagine if a commercial airline pilot, or the CEO of Google went to a job interview where they only had to answer a few written questions. Communicating with someone in person shows that you care about the message, and you have the ability to learn more about someone when you meet them and notice non-verbal signals. Everyone knows sending an email is the “easy” thing to do – so show people you care by taking the time to meet with them in person.
Sending an email is still one of my most preferred ways of communication. Now that email is on everyone’s smartphone, we can literally respond to a message from anywhere – but that doesn’t mean it’s always the best response. Technology has made us (and me) lazy. First we started abbreviating words through text, and now we’re beginning to send emoji’s. So do yourself a favor – take the time to schedule a phone call, or an in person meeting. You won’t regret it.