Is It Important?

Post-It Note with phrase What’s Important to You?
I love email. It is a great way to send quick messages to family, friends, clients, and colleagues…even at 3:00 AM. It is a non-intrusive, asynchronous form of communication.

Yet, we all know that the sweetest roses have thorns. Email is so easy that in the past few years, many people now receive 100, 200, 300, or more emails per day (I mean legitimate messages; I am not including spam). The result: individual emails often becomes lost within the sea of messages.

My favorite household tool is a hammer; yet, I would not use a hammer to paint walls or mow the lawn. Likewise, I believe email is a great tool; however, it is not the best one for communicating important ideas.

Can you imagine a young man clearing his throat, getting down on his knee, and then hitting the send button so his prospective ‘bride-to-be’ could read the proposal in the morning, including an attachment of the ring? I’m sure it has happened due to some special circumstance, but in general, we would expect the reply to be: No! Questions of this magnitude should be asked in-person.

Here is a simple ranked order how to address a conversation that you consider important:

  1. Face-to-Face
  2. Personal Phone Call
  3. Email or Letter via Post
  4. Text or Instant Messages

Whenever possible, choose to meet with people in the flesh. People treat such meetings with more weight than anything that ever arrives within their inbox. Depending on the situation, this can be short informal visit with one other person or a formal meeting with an entire group. If this is not possible for logistical reason, then talk on the phone. Avoid email as a first-strike.

Email can be part of an overall strategy for effective communication, but it should be used as a follow-up or reinforcement of the important message. Email, as a secondary tool, is more than appropriate to re-cap a conversation, a change, a decision, or an agreement.

Texting and Instant Messaging is great for urgent or casual conversations, but I would strongly recommend that you avoid using this medium for important messages, at least, under most circumstances.