Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders


Sep 18, 2020

Summary

Picture this scenario. You need to make contact with someone that you haven’t spoken to in quite a while. Do you call or just send them a text or email instead? It turns out that our chosen communication method is often driven more by fear than effectiveness.

 

Transcript

Hello and welcome to episode 95 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. Picture this scenario. You need to make contact with someone that you haven’t spoken to in quite a while. Do you call or just send them a text or email instead? It turns out that our chosen communication method is often driven more by fear than effectiveness.

To explore this, researchers asked 200 people what they thought it would be like to reconnect with an old friend via email and phone. 

Even though people thought a phone call would lead to great connection, they feared a call would be more awkward. People were far more inclined to use email than pick up the phone. In that moment they performed a quick cost-benefit equation. Is the better connection worth the awkwardness? Apparently not.

They then divided the group randomly into an email group and a phone call group and had them actually contact that old friend using that method.

So was the preferred choice of email the right one? Those who were forced to use the phone found their calls actually went far better than they predicted. The phone call led to an even deeper connection, and was far less awkward than anticipated. So using the phone is the better option.

“But wait a second” I hear you say - “Doesn’t a phone call take longer?” That’s a fair question to ask. If a phone call takes longer than an email, then maybe the email is better after all.

Indeed, researchers found that participants also thought an email would be faster than a phone call. However, it turns out that the phone calls took around the same amount of time as reading and responding to email.

Does this actually happen at work? Absolutely. It’s likely that people are choosing communication methods that don’t maximise connection because they think the alternative will be awkward and inefficient.

We communicate a lot through our voice, and not just through the words that we say. Our tone, pace, pitch and volume all come together to communicate a richer message. The research is pretty clear - if the goal is to build trust and connection, look for opportunities to be face-to-face and, if that’s not possible, then pick up the phone and give the person a call. It’s likely to be far less awkward and far more effective than you expect.

As I encouraged a few episodes ago, it may even be worth replacing a video conference using Zoom or similar with a phone call. You can find out more about that in episode 92. All our past episodes are available via the Leadership.Today website or wherever you get your podcasts. And, while you’re thinking about what to listen to next, why not provide a quick rating or review? It really makes a difference.

Have a great week.

 

Research

Kumar, A., & Epley, N. (2020). It’s surprisingly nice to hear you: Misunderstanding the impact of communication media can lead to suboptimal choices of how to connect with others. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000962