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A salutary limitation on e-mail: extended discussions and disagreements are much better by phone

Good advice, in my view, about use of e-mail comes from the NY Times, Dec. 25, 2011 at BU 8. In a column that interviews CEOs, the most recent one explained a rule about disagreements by e-mail. Basically, after the second e-mail of disagreement (I write: “The moon is solid.” You write, “It’s made of green cheese.” After I write, “No, solid swiss.”) that’s the end of writing online to each other. The cultural rule in that company says you pick up the phone, or Skype for a video discussion, and hammer out your views. I strongly support that rule: if you want to understand someone and figure out a solution, talk to them.

The CEO added: “It takes 90 percent less time to resolve conflicts when we talk, compared with when we write.” Of course, the CEO has done no study of the time it takes to resolve conflicting by discussion compared to by e-mail but the faux metric has rhetorical punch.

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