In a medieval duel, combatants would choose their weapons. Clearly, guns beat swords and swords beat fists.
In communication, face-to-face beats phone and phone beats writing.
We’ve all heard of – or experienced – ‘flame wars’, where one person misunderstands an email and it escalates into a full-scale written row. In most cases, it would be resolved instantly if one party just picked up the phone and talked it through, or arranged to meet over coffee or lunch.
Why you need to know this
Choose the channel to suit your objective and the needs of your audience.
If you want to win a business pitch, aiming for a face-to-face meeting or Skype/Hangout conversation rather than a phone call or email exchange.
If you want to keep your team happy, walk around and chat to them from time to time, don’t just send ‘top down’ messages or stick a sign on a noticeboard.
Once you already have a face-to-face relationship, writing can be just as effective as meeting, and certainly saves time.