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To Text Or Not To Text: That Is The Question

If you google verbal communication, you will find various examples of verbal communication such as 'interpersonal' which is the conversation between two people, small group which suggests a few people, and public which would be to a larger audience. In our modern age in 2022. verbal communication has been replaced far too often with text and email messages. I would invite you to consider that in some cases the power of the spoken word and the inflection in your voice is too important for a text or an email.

Why is that? Let's explore. Certainly email messages have made our business and personal communications faster and much easier in many ways. You can send an email to your colleagues that you will be out on vacation giving them the name of a team member who can handle things in your absence. Does this require a personal phone call to each member of your team to share this information? Probably not as a succinct and informational email will suffice. Your spouse sends you a text and asks you to pick up a loaf of bread on the way home from work. This also is a great use of text messaging to send a quick and easy one-way communication. This does not require your spouse to be interrupted during their workday to convey a quick message when a text will do the job. Why do these situations work well? Because it's a one-way communication that does not require the recipient to hear the tone or inflection of your voice or to see your face and have the ability to read your non-verbal communication.

In a professional setting when it's vital that the person or persons that you are communicating with see your facial expression and are able to read your body language, a text or an email should not be used. It's not only a bad idea, it can actually do more harm than good. When you fire off that text or email, you have no idea how your words are being perceived. When should you opt for a video call, phone call or in-person meeting?

  • Giving an employee bad news or constructive criticism

  • Having a difficult conversation with a client or vendor

  • An apology

  • Terminating an employee

  • When you are trying to build trust or strengthen a relationship with an employee, client or a vendor

These are just a few examples. Before you fire of that text or email, ask yourself "How could this one-way communication be perceived?" The litmus test is whether you are trying to save, repair, or build a relationship. If it falls under any of those categories, you should always choose face-to-face communication and as a last resort, a phone call. Doing this will do wonders for developing strong personal relationships with your vendors, employees and colleagues. Those elevated relationships that are built on trust and understanding can elevate your career track in the work place.


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