Don’t Use Email When a Face-to-Face Conversation Is More Appropriate

An email exchange is not the same as a phone call or a face-to-face conversation. At the top of the hierarchy of human communications are face-to-face meetings, then phone calls, then voice mail, and lastly email. Face-to-face meetings have the most impact. Not only can you hear and talk back to the other person, you also have the ability to see gestures and facial expressions etc. On the phone you don’t see gestures, but you can hear the tone and emotion in the speaker’s voice. Email has the narrowest communications bandwidth – it is only black and white words on a screen.

Make sure the mode of communication you use fits the circumstance. When the news is big or bad, pick up the phone, walk down the hall or meet with your colleague or client face-to-face when more personal contact is called for.


  1. I like the hierarchy of … intimacy? formality? And I wonder where if anywhere communication by a regular mail letter fits in. I can see occasions when such a thing might be the appropriate vehicle.

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