Email is the bomb. The best thing ever. Arguably the most powerful business tool around. However, it can also be a debilitating crutch.
Since the late 90’s, email has been the best way to communicate without intruding and at the same time leaving an all-but-indelible trail for future reference. You know all this (you probably got to this link from an email communication).
The thing I did not understand until recently about email was that in its convenience, we leave out very important human contact. No, I am not about to try to convince you to take a day off from email. My advice is much more pragmatic: for the hard or delicate interactions, pick up the phone.
In the last 12 months, I have had several instances where relations with a key investor or partner were going sideways. Email seemed to be a perfect escalation machine. You cannot really hear the silences after someone disagrees with your position, so you cannot dig deeper there. You also rarely get a chance to retort a specific point. Two important mentors told me the same thing: just pick up the phone. I did and in most cases a 10-minute call resulted in a breakthrough that a week of emails could not achieve. Most people today rely on two ways of communicating: 1) text (email, SMS, WhatsApp, etc.) and 2) in-person conversations. Voice calls, with their perceived intrusive nature, have been relegated to scheduled multi-person conference and social calls.
In a start-up environment where everyone is running at 100 mph, this is not an easy lesson to apply. Email seems so much easier and of course it doesn’t matter when you send it, while calling requires more planning. My takeaway? If things are getting hairy, just pick up the phone. You will save time and get better results.