Choosing a Communication Tool

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify the best communication tool for various situations and scenarios

You have now learned about email, instant messaging, and video conferencing applications. Your organization will likely provide several different communication tools to employees, and in addition, you typically will have the option to have face-to-face conversations as well (unless you are working fully remotely). With so many options, it is important to know the best communication tool for various situations and scenarios.

If a matter requires a quick response and the message can be kept brief, instant messaging is probably a great option.  If a message is more complicated and lengthy, then either an email or phone call are better options than instant messaging.

Email is widely known to be asynchronous, so it can always be considered appropriate when something does not require immediate attention. Email is also a great option whenever you need to share a file with someone. If you have a question that only requires looking at a file briefly to answer, you could also do a video call and share your screen rather than sharing the file.

People in a conference room with someone on a video screen on the wallIf a matter is truly urgent, often a phone call or face-to-face conversation will be best to ensure you are able to talk in real time. Depending on what communication tools your organization uses, you may be able to do a video call just as quickly and easily (or maybe even more easily) as a phone call.

Keep in mind that any form of written communication does not convey tone as well as oral communication, so a phone call, video call, or face-to-face meeting are often better when you need to discuss a difficult or sensitive topic. However, since a phone call can be intrusive as it interrupts a person without warning, it can be appropriate to send an instant message or email asking to schedule a phone call or face-to-face meeting at the other person’s convenience.

Another consideration in any communication is the other person’s preference. If you have a manager who you know prefers phone calls over emails, then something you may consider emailing to other people may be more appropriate and effective as a phone call to your manager.

Use your best judgment regarding these factors in choosing a communication tool and throughout any communication, remember to be professional and courteous.