When Is a Phone Call Better Than an Email? 6 Times When You Should Take It Offline

When Is a Phone Call Better Than an Email? 6 Times When You Should Take It Offline

When Is a Phone Call Better Than an Email? It gives me time to think. That means it's time to stop hiding behind the screen, take a deep breath, and dial. 6 Times a Phone Call Is Better Than an Email 1) When You Want to Apologize Most of us grow up understanding that, when we do something wrong, we should say, “Sorry” -- 96% of parents think it’s important for kids to apologize when they deliberately upset someone, and 88% believe the same is true, even when it's unintentional. But if you’re afraid of screwing up an apology when you try to do it off-script, you can still write it down before you make the call. For that reason, there are times when it’s a good idea to combine a phone call with an email. Following up in writing is a helpful way to ensure that both parties are on the same page after a conversation, and gives you a point of reference after the fact. Plus, making the effort to actually call the person and address the issue -- rather than responding with an overdue email that’s just going to flood his or her inbox, too -- speaks volumes. But reaching out by phone not only prevents an email from going unread -- and adding to the recipient’s email avalanche -- but also, it helps to instill that sense of empathy we mentioned before, and emphasize urgency. But we also like to keep a human element to things, which is why -- and feel free to call us “sentimental” -- sometimes, we like to talk it out.

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I don’t know about you, but as a rule, I communicate better via written word.

It gives me time to think. It lets me use the vocabulary that my SAT tutor hammered into my brain so many years ago. And most of all, it gives me a screen to hide behind when I have to confront an uncomfortable topic — making the situation much less awkward. But there are times when even I, the perpetual wordsmith, have to make an actual phone call.

Speaking to another human being over the phone can be nerve wracking. Maybe it’s because so few of us actually use our mobile devices for that anymore — after all, Pew Research found that text messaging is the most widely-used feature on them.

But even if it looks like phone calls are fading on the surface, there are times when they’re still essential — especially, it seems, where a sensitive subject is concerned. That means it’s time to stop hiding behind the screen, take a deep breath, and dial. We’ve outlined six of the most important occasions when a phone call is better than an email. Have a look, and start talking.

6 Times a Phone Call Is Better Than an Email

1) When You Want to Apologize

Most of us grow up understanding that, when we do something wrong, we should say, “Sorry” — 96% of parents think it’s important for kids to apologize when they deliberately upset someone, and 88% believe the same is true, even when it’s unintentional. But what constitutes a heartfelt apology?

It’s so hard to admit when we’re wrong. And to actually say it out loud — “I’m sorry” — is even more challenging when we have the option of quickly typing it out in an email or text message. That’s why it can carry so much more weight when someone actually calls us to apologize. Assuming he or she means it, we can hear the person’s remorse.

But if you’re afraid of screwing up an apology when you try to do it off-script, you can still write it down before you make the call. That can help to give you an idea of what it is that you really want to say, and can mitigate the risk of stumbling your way through saying sorry. Just make sure it sounds natural — an apology won’t seem very authentic if it sounds like you’re reading from a script.

2) When You Anticipate a Lot of Questions

My colleague, Leslie Ye, recently had a phone call with someone to discuss a project for the HubSpot Sales Blog. She specifically chose to have a spoken conversation — rather than explain the parameters over email — for a few reasons. Among them, she told me, was that she anticipated the writer would have several questions.

As it turns out, she was right. “Calls that have a lot of questions are typically harder to handle over email, because that’s not a real-time conversation,” Ye explained. “With a phone call you, can go back and forth on one question until it’s clarified, then move on to the next one.”

In other words, it was more efficient for Ye and her counterpart to address all questions in a single phone call, rather than over a string of emails. When you do the latter, you risk losing track of what’s been asked and answered. But there’s a catch — if you don’t take notes during your call, it’s just as easy to forget what you’ve discussed, given our declining attention span and retention of details.

For that reason, there are times when it’s a good idea to combine a phone call with an email. Following up in writing is a helpful way to ensure that both parties are on the same page after a conversation, and gives you a point of reference…

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