Back in the olden days, let’s say the early 80s — 1980s, that is — there were really only a few communication options: in person, landline phone or snail mail. Ah, a simpler time. But, we now live in a world with 25 kinds of Oreos and a wide array of ways to get a message to a colleague. Choice is great, but it can also be confusing. Suppose you need final approval on the new logo design. Do you send the CEO an email or give him a call? If you call, should it be his office number or cell? Perhaps a text would be better, or maybe an instant message? It’s easy to get overwhelmed. While each situation is different, here are some good rules of the road for deciding which way to go.
Those of us old enough to remember life before email know that its widespread adoption changed business communications in a revolutionary and fundamental way. There’s a good reason that it became instantly ubiquitous. The ability to create message threads and store correspondence for future reference helped people become more responsive and organized. Although there are other options available, email is great when:
- Multiple people are involved in a conversation.
- A “paper” trail is needed for compliance, contractual or legal reasons.
- You’ll need to easily be able to find and reference the conversation again.
- The issue is straightforward and “tone” is not important.
- The conversation revolves around another document or image that can be attached to the email for reference.
For example, I’d probably choose email to get my CEO’s approval on the new logo because I can embed or attach it to the email, making it easy for her to refer to it as she replies. It’s also probably a good idea to have documentation of a decision like this one.