This article by Wired News laments the sorry state of affairs with regards to our ability to communicate. While cellphones and emails have increased the amount of communication we do on average, it has greatly killed the art of communication. A survey quoted in the article, conducted by Yahoo! and OMD shows that the average family is doing 43 hours of multi-tasking work in one day!
Look all around at the emails and SMS's we receive and the horrible spelling and grammar of it all. And how frequently people will end up chatting on IM with someone who is in the very same room! I hate it when someone who could have picked up the phone and spoken to me about an issue would rather send me an email or worse still chat with me on IM. Chatting has to be the #1 communication killer, especially when other options are easily available.
While email would ensure putting things on the record, I'd personally prefer the following order of communication:
- Meeting in person. Especially in business, a face to face meeting can have far greater positive outcomes than simply email or phone communication. It is quite likely that a client or partner may be more convinced about doing business with you if you go visit them than if they have only spoken with you or emailed you.
- Phone call. It is extremely tedious at times to give an explanation of an issue over email. And how often do we feel tempted to resort to emoticons to convey the emotion behind our message, even in formal emails. Because very often the text of the email simply fails to communicate the tone of the message. Just pick up the phone and talk! There's nothing like the sound of a human voice at the other end of the line to change the way the other person perceives you.
- Emails. Compared with the blasphemy of doing business or personal communications over SMS's with their 160 character limits, I'd prefer email any day. Also, when doing business internationally, emails are one of the best means of communication, unless you use Jajah.
- Chatting. It's cheap, but it's horrible in terms of actually getting one's point across. While I might be mid-way through answering the first question, the other party is already onto their next point. Grammar and spelling are usually the first casualties.