WRITING TO WIN: PICK UP THE TELEPHONE!
by Royce Murcherson
Effective written communication is absolutely essential in the workplace. I emphasize its importance in my book. I absolutely stress we must be strategic and persuasive when it comes to implementing beneficial change. As much as I believe in the concept of creating a smart, intelligent image of yourself through your writing, it’s not the only means. Pick up the telephone.
Yes, we live in a data age of electronic words which has pretty much replaced the traditional, “Hi, how are you…and… I have a quick question that will take care of the entire issue”. The obvious concern with the present state of things is the lack of human-to-human ‘real voice’ communication. The exchange of ideas in our current environment rests on three main platforms: instant messaging, email, and texting. We’ve grown used to it. We love it. Somehow we have lulled ourselves into the complacency of avoiding a real conversation because we think it takes more time. But perhaps, it’s time to re think this digital substitution and think ‘old school’ instead. There are many advantages to picking up the telephone.
- NO MISTAKES IN TONE – The first is safeguarding your tone and avoiding mistakes of intention. Quite simply, you avoid SENDING THE WRONG MESSAGE. In section two of my book, I stress the importance of tone. It’s easy to inadvertently deposit your emotional state in an email, text, or instant message which in turn can cause unintended consequences. By picking up the telephone, you eliminate the guess-work. The tone and inflection of your voice, the conversational back and forth, the impromptu humor and discussion leaves no room for error.
- RELATIONSHIP BUILDING – Building strong working relationships with your colleagues is very important and can likely contribute to your ultimate success. You may have heard the quote by John Donne, “No man is an island entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…”. This is exactly right in the business world . Teamwork is everything. And you can’t foster teamwork without building relationships. You can’t build ‘real’ relationships with only email and instant messaging. There must be some human contact to give those digital words life.
- CUTTING DOWN THE EMAIL CHAIN – Texting is great for brief questions and confirmations, but not for conversations. When the text messages get too long and begin to go on for what seems like forever, you know when it’s time to stop and dial the number. The same is true with email. These types of messages should be brief, and should not go on forever. To avoid these never-ending chains, pick up the phone. One five-minute conversation could be equal to fourteen emails.
- IMMEDIATE RESPONSE – Writing takes time. Time is precious during the workday. Why wait for a reply to an email, when you can get your answer much faster. Remember, everyone’s inbox is full. When you send an email, you get prioritized. Don’t get prioritized. Get your answer quickly.
For an expanded discussions on business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:
Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013
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