Don’t Rely on Emails for Good Communication


I was given the following data by a good friend and business consultant, Ron Crough.

  • 6% of the information in communication is conveyed by the actual words themselves.
  • 38% of the information in communication is conveyed by the words and the tone of your voice.
  • 96% of the information in communication is conveyed by the words themselves, the tone of your voice, and your body language.

Why is this important?

In an online world that doesn’t seem to value “face to face” interaction, good communication is a greater challenge.

A good example was my interaction with my ex wife.  I thought that since emotions were pretty raw, it was better to communicate through email, allowing us to convey information without any emotional overtones.  The problem was that in the absence of voice or physical presence, we have a tendency to infer voice and tone, and consequently “hear” things that aren’t there.   We both experienced some emotional reactions to written words, inferring tone that after further discussion we found wasn’t intended and didn’t exist.

The second example is normal daily emails.  Again, in the absence of voice tones and body language, we tend to “hear” the intangibles, often mistakenly.  Thinking we are communicating effectively, we are as often  “mis-communicating”.

Rule of thumb:  the more important the content of the communication, the more important it is to move up the communication ladder, adding voice and physical presence.

In communicating with clients, I2I (Eye to Eye) always yields our best work.

In communicating with co-workers, I2I always offers the best chance for being understood and developing a collaborative work relationship.

Email is great, but we must always recognize its limitations.  In fact, we should almost assume misunderstanding following up important emails  with a more important phone call or visit.

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Posted in: My Musings

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