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Choose the best communication tool

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in Workplace Communication

Just because e-mail is handy doesn't make it efficient. Indeed, three out of four people delete an e-mail before they finish reading it, a recent survey found.

For quick information sharing, e-mail can't be beat. But "snail" mail, phone calls and face-to-face contact each provide the best communication tool in different scenarios. Here are some examples:

Sensitive or complex subjects. When you reach for the keyboard, check that you aren't attempting to avoid an unpleasant conversation. (We heard of one company that fired people by fax.)

Emotionally charged situations, complex subjects and those that require listening to your colleague demand the greater interaction of a meeting or at least the audible cues of a phone call.

Exchange of information. If confusion remains or issues veer off course after an initial electronic volley, pick up the phone or head down the hall. A brief conversation accomplishes more than dozens of e-mail messages.

Lasting impressions. Dashing off an e-mail or phoning to say thanks doesn't carry the same weight as a handwritten note. The extra effort to draft the correspondence shows you place high value on what another person has done for you.

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