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When Is a Phone Call Better Than Email? Here's How to Decide

By Brian Farris   |    August 18, 2020   |    1:01 PM

The Best Ways to Communicate With Your Professional Contacts

It’s a question that many professionals ask when deciding how to communicate in a business setting: Should I pick up the phone or send an email?

Nowadays, many people err on the side of email — it’s quick and easy, plus it’s always nice to have time to think about the message you’d like to get across.

But, as you likely know, email isn’t always the right choice. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of both mediums. Here’s how to decide on the phone versus email conundrum based on the content of your message, who you want to speak with and more.

Send an email when…

  • You have a quick or simple question.
  • You want to send a status update.
  • Multiple people need to be kept in the loop.
  • There’s an attachment you need to share.
  • You need to follow-up on something, like a potential sale, and don’t want to seem aggressive.
  • You don’t need an immediate response to something (with email, recipients can respond whenever they’re able).
  • You need a written record of the correspondence.
  • You need to share complex, detailed information.
  • You’re sharing something that the recipient will need to refer to later — it’s easy to save an email, after all.

Additionally, if the person you need to reach hasn’t given you their phone number, it’s probably best to send an email. 

Opt for a phone call when…

  • You already have a phone call scheduled.
  • The topic or question at hand is complicated and you expect follow-up questions.
  • You need to talk about a sensitive topic, especially if it’s something personal or negative.
  • Tone of voice is an important part of delivering your message (your intended tone can be easily lost when using digital communication tools).
  • You want to build camaraderie with someone.
  • Two-way communication is essential to solving a problem or making a decision.
  • Back-and-forth emails have made it impossible to get the information you need.

When deciding which communication tool to use, there’s one more important question to ask: Is the person expecting a phone call?

If the answer is no, consider sending an email first. If it isn’t a good time for the person to talk you can schedule a time that works for both parties.

Is it ever okay to text a business contact?

This question is a bit trickier to answer because everyone has different preferences. Some people like to keep their text messages clear of work-related correspondence. Others find texting to be an easy and convenient way to get answers quickly. 

When in doubt, the best thing to do is ask if the person is comfortable being contacted via text message. If you do get permission to text a professional contact, be sure to use it only as needed.

So, what’s better — phone calls or emails?

If you guessed that there’s no single answer to this question, you’d be 100% correct.

In today’s modern workplace, there’s room for emails, phone calls, text messages and more. The key is to choose whichever tool is right for the job you’re trying to accomplish. 

Clearly, staying on top of business communications isn’t easy. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your inbox and log of missed calls, consider partnering with a virtual assistant. 

These professionals are an affordable staffing solution that can help keep your work life on track, freeing up time for you to do more of your best work (or give you the time to finally take a break). Learn how it works by clicking here.