8 Times You Should Put Down the Phone and Communicate in Person

Technology has made communication a lot easier, but sometimes we rely on it too much. Yes, it often helps us save time and get messages across faster. But sometimes a message sent in haste can do more harm than good.

There are times when communicating in person might be the better option.

So, we asked members of Forbes Coaches Council for help identifying what these instances are. Here’s what they had to say. 1. If It Takes More Than Five MinutesIf it takes more than five minutes to compose, then pick up the phone, schedule face time or do it in person. Even with the ubiquity of technology, there is no substitute for in-person dialogue. Minimize risks of faulty assumptions and misunderstandings, especially with emotionally-charged topics. Email is fine for quick updates, but motivating action and changing mindsets require two-way dialogue. - Shoma Chatterjee, ghSMART 2. If It Could Be MiscommunicatedLook at your communications via memo, email, text or even apps such as Slack. If your company or your teams seem to argue, have debates, and find other ways to miscommunicate through technology, then it's time to bring people together in person, either through Skype or as “in-person” as you can. Then talk. - John M. O'Connor, Career Pro Inc. 3. Crucial ConversationsWhen times get tough and you need to have a crucial or important conversation with someone, doing it face to face is critical. When emotions run high and opinions can be very different, talking in person is important to build a sense of safety, especially to be able to see the other person’s body language and build that human interaction. With technology, tone, body language and even words can get misconstrued. - Monica Thakrar, MTI 4. ApologiesCommunication builds relationships and increases productivity. If you've wronged another, it's better to "right the wrong" in-person rather than "writing the wrong" via tech. Unlike animals, we humans have the luxury of words. In-person apologies require more risk and energy. Face-to-face communication is the most likely to repair and rebuild the relationship toward increased future productivity. - Elaine Rosenblum, J.D., ProForm U®Related: 15 Ways to Rise Above Harboring Resentment at Your Job 5. Sensitive MattersOne of the leading causes of decreased employee engagementis poor communication. When employees feel left out of the loop or when sensitive matters are communicated without care, organizational culture can suffer greatly. Big changes and important news that may touch a nerve with employee thoughts and feelings should be relayed face-to-face to allow feedback and enhance credibility and trust. - Niquenya Collins, Building Bridges Consulting 6. When You’re Collaborating On SomethingTechnology is convenient but can impede productivity and cloud clear communication. Sensitive conversations should be conducted in person. The other time to meet in-person is when a team is co-creating. Phones and email are stilted; flow of conversation isn’t natural, and the energy of in-person proximity is lost. I find that in-person meetings produce twice the results in half the time. - Deborah Goldstein, DRIVEN Professionals 7. When Building RelationshipsWork entails sharing of information and working together. Information can be shared via email. However, working together requires good relationships with co-workers, clients, bosses, etc. When beginning a working relationship, in-person, Skype or at minimum a phone call, will create the foundation of a relationship which can then develop trust and understanding. Email will better understood coming from someone you've taken the time to meet in-person. - Julie Kantor, Ph.D., JP Kantor Consulting 8. When Delivering Bad NewsThere's a saying that warns that "the only thing worse than delivering bad news is delivering bad news badly." My advice to leaders who have to deliver a tough message to their teams is to do it in person whenever possible. One of the signs of an effective and compassionate leader is the courage to see and be seen when having to tell people information that you know will be challenging. - Trellis Usher, T.R. Ellis Group LLC