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Pick up the phone, don’t email…

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by John Austin in Behavior change, Leadership, Safety
man on phone

A few days ago I came across an interesting study that shows that…”people too often opt to send email or text messages when a phone call is more likely to produce the feelings of connectedness they crave.”

The context of the study was in reconnecting with an old friend, but don’t you think the same holds true for leaders?

I’ve worked with countless people…executives, managers, sales people, engineers, maintenance leaders, operations leaders…

…who KNEW that a face to face, phone, or live video would have far more impact than an email, and yet they send email anyway…

But knowing is not the same as doing.

If this is you, don’t be surprised if you don’t get the response you’re looking for through email.

We use it because it seems quicker (it’s not always, when you account for the back and forth messages), and we feel a sense of accomplishment when we click “send”.

It’s that reinforcement which keeps us coming back for more, even though we rarely get the behavior change we’re looking for when we use email.

So, if you’re hoping to influence someone – remember to pick up the phone, get them on a video call, or (if it’s safe) go and see them in person.

If you are interested in learning more about how behavioral science education can help you create a more effective work environment for your teams, please email me or comment below.

  1. Randy L Fulton, PhD says:

    John, I’m going to have to get your phone number 🙂
    I am not at all surprised by the importance of voice in forming bonds. Reinforcement is strongest within 0.5-1.5 seconds of the response. Hitting send reinforces clicking creating one communication regardless of how many topics or ideas are in the email and sets the occasion for one return response or worse yet a mixed bag where the responder reinforces some ideas and punishes others within their one click response.. Voice interaction provides immediate reinforcements for the interaction(s) and also multiple reinforcement and feedback opportunities with specificity within the message exchange. As Tim Ludwig, PhD notes; prompt, probable, and personal are the components of (reinforcement) power. I would add predictive.

  2. John says:

    Randy – thanks for the comment! Yes, you’re explaining why we use email instead of the phone…it’s all about the consequences ad the environment we’ve set for ourselves. Just knowing the right thing to do does not mean we will do them. – John

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