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How to Choose the Best Form of Communication: Part 3

What’s the best way to contact a colleague or client? E-mail? A phone call? An in-person visit? Today we wrap up our three-part series on choosing the best form of communication for any business situation. What factors do you need to consider?

How long is the other party’s response likely to be? When choosing a method of communication, consider not only how long your end of the conversation is, but the response length as well. Even a short question may necessitate a lengthy answer—make sure your chosen method of communication allows for the length of response you anticipate. A more complicated question may best be posed via e-mail so that the other party has time to compose a thoughtful, detailed response. If it’s a question that may require give and take, a phone call may be preferable in order to avoid endless e-mail chains of back-and-forth questions. On the other hand, if you are posing a simple yes or no question, a text or e-mail may be preferable to a phone call.

Is there a possibility of the message being misread? Although technology often makes communicating convenient, it does come at a cost—a higher likelihood of being misunderstood. Communication goes far beyond the simple words that make up a message. Tone of voice, facial expression, and body language all play an enormous role in how a message is perceived. A simple question may be misread as accusatory or a joke taken as a serious, offensive comment all depending on the recipient’s mindset at the time. If there is any possibility that a question or comment could be misread or taken the wrong way, always err on the side of caution and contact the other party by phone or even better, an in-person meeting.

Do you need a record of the communication? For some issues in business, it’s best that a written record of the conversation be available. In some cases, having written record may be useful to refer back to for ideas or background. In other cases, it may be helpful in legal matters to have a record of what was said by each party during an interaction. If you anticipate that you need a written record, e-mail is of course your best bet. If a conversation is begun in person or over the phone and you would like a written record, follow up the conversation with an e-mail reiterating what was said.

Do you have any tips on communication in the professional world? Join the conversation and share them in our comments section!

If you want to sharpen your communication skills and polish your speech, you might benefit from the services of a corporate communications coach. Let our team of corporate speech-language pathologists help you reach your professional potential through strong communication. Give us a call at 212-308-7725 or visit us on the web at www.corporatespeechsolutions.com. Don’t live in NYC? No problem! Our services are Skype ready, so CSS can help you improve your communication from anywhere in the world.