July 1, 2003
Email is email, telephone is telephone
Some people have problems knowing the difference between telephone and email. For me, the telephone is for more immediate concerns, or things that can be handled better in a spoken conversation than a written conversation. For me, there are not a whole lot of things that have to be solved this way. Email is for everything else, including most situations when someone else asks for additional information on a given subject. In fact, email would be superior in this case, since you have time to say what you need to say, and the recipient has time to digest it. Unfortunately, some people just don't get this.
I do some PC software support. Sometimes I'm told to ignore or delay certain people because they want things that are expensive. There is one person in particular I have been putting off for a couple of weeks. This morning I sent him an email asking for clarification of his original request. He tried to call. I didn't answer. A few hours later he tried to call again. I might answer the phone tomorrow, but mostly I want him to email me, so I'll have time to think about what he has to say. I suppose he thinks he is going to rope me into agreeing to install this software for him while he has me on the phone, but he isn't going to (I'm not even authorized to do that). So, he actually has to wait longer by waiting to get me on the phone than he does by just replying to my email.
Even worse are the people who always insist on coming to talk to you in person. That's another benefit of email - everyone can deal with it when they have a chance to deal with it. When someone comes down 10 floors to my office, they risk a chance of my not being there, or being busy with something else. Maybe those people just don't have enough to do, but it's not my job to help them get through the day. Just email it. Or if you don't sending email, send me a voicemail. I'll send you an email if I require clarification.
Published: July 1, 2003