email vs meeting_2

To meet or to email? A question you should be asking

We all have been in meetings from which we leave thinking, “this could have been an email.” We know how frustrating that can be and how it can harm the workflow of our day.

Good communicators know the best mediums to use according to their goals.

Could it have been an email?

Email is, nowadays, one of the favorite communication mediums to provide information. It is fast, cheap, and doesn’t force people to be all available at the same time. So, is sending an email the right choice to pass your message? Depends.

There are three major situations when a meeting is unnecessary and, sometimes, counterproductive:

  • A straightforward message to many people – If the message is simple, why lose time trying to rearrange everybody’s schedule to set up a meeting? It is unnecessary. Send an email and show your availability to answer any questions your colleagues may have.
  • To answer a prior communication – When you receive an email, with rare exceptions, your correspondent is waiting for an email answer. If your answer is too complex – or you feel the need for a face-to-face conversation – reply to the email explaining your need for a meeting.
  • To inform someone – Is your communication merely informative? Send an email. You save time and give the recipients time to process and understand, at their own pace, the information you’re giving to them.

It’s time for a meeting!

If you are able to separate the topics that really need a face-to-face conversation from the others, your team will attend a meeting with a different mindset. It will become more interesting and productive. It will really make a difference, instead of being just “one more”.

If you are a millennial, you may prefer digital means anyway. Yet, you need to keep in mind that sometimes, it is imperative to set up a meeting and talk face to face.

Give confidential, private, or delicate information

I’m not advocating for you to be very suspicious of new technologies. However, security breaks happen, and you need to protect yourself and your company. Confidential and private information should be given face-to-face.

There is also some more delicate information that requires eye contact and a certain “human touch”. It is the case, for example, of giving feedback, especially negative feedback.

If you need to tell someone they didn’t do a good job and send an email, you can face two types of problems. First, you can have a person that will ignore it entirely. A written message doesn’t have the same impact. They feel that it is not that important – it was just an email; if it were serious, there would be a meeting.

On the other hand, some people will take it seriously and may feel hurt or disrespected. Aren’t they important enough for you to talk to them looking into their eyes?

An email feels impersonal. Keep that in mind.

Influence, persuade, or sell an idea

How do you expect to convince someone with a written text? Sure, you have time to build your arguments and write a beautiful pitch, but so your recipient!

Influence someone is a very physical thing. Think about digital influencers. They use video tools a lot. Why? It is the closest they have to face-to-face, to real interaction. You need this to convince someone to do something!

If you want to persuade your coworkers or present an idea, you must set up a meeting and prepare meticulously. For example, your body language has a profound impact on their perception, as well as your tone of voice.

Express feelings or emotions

Have you ever got a text message and thought, “Is this person mad or joking?” When it comes to feelings, written words can lead to many misunderstandings, and it isn’t easy to solve them. Both sides of the communication may be making a wrong interpretation of what is being said. That’s a huge problem inside a company.

The idea of the corporate world, unemotional and absolutely rational, is outdated and the source of many issues. Some communication demands a bit of emotion, and that’s okay. Set up a meeting!

Good communication deserves good media

Good communication is more than a good message that your audience was able to understand. A good communicator engages, listens, and helps people to communicate as well. Endless meetings with no purpose only upset your audience and become unproductive.

Before schedule, your next meeting, think carefully of if it is worth it or if there is another acceptable and effective means of conveying your message.

Cátia is a psychologist who is passionate about helping children develop and train social skills.


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