Beyond the Build


Shifting Away From “The Gold Standard” of Communication

I recently heard a smart rule for making the decision of how to communicate: Use email primarily for notifications where emotions will be low. Save the discussions for two-way communication like a call, or better yet, a face-to-face meeting. While it may take a little more planning on the front end, this allows for instant responses back and forth. It’s also an investment in the task, the relationship or both.

When I have a routine situation where a short answer is best, saving both the sender and the receiver time, I will text or email. In many other situations, I try to call. Whether I get the person on the phone or leave a voicemail, it’s better communication because the message is received with tone. Depending on what I have to share, this can even have a calming effect, whereas email often lacks context and can make a situation escalate unnecessarily. If I get no response on the phone, I might try a second time before I resort to email, with a beginning note that I have tried to call. I’m convinced that the extra effort means a lot to the person on the receiving end, particularly in a time when so much of our communication is electronic.


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.