In 1964, Marshall McLuhan famously coined the expression, “The medium is the message”. Simply put, this means that how you choose to communicate your message is in itself, sending out a message.

Confused? Think about this – would you rather receive an email from your boss over the weekend, or a phone call instead? Most people would rather prefer to receive an email instead, because a phone call would signify that there is an urgent matter that requires immediate attention.

In the modern workplace, there are plenty of ways in which we can contact our colleagues. Knowing which method to use under different circumstances can potentially avert a huge misunderstanding between you and your co-workers. Here are some general guidelines to follow:


For non-urgent items and notices, use email. This method of communication is non-invasive and allows the receiver to read the message on his or her own time. Therefore, it should only be used for matters that do not need urgent attention. Even if the email is work-related, the sender should never expect an immediate reply unless the email is followed up with a phone call.

 Man with smartphone

For non-urgent matters to matters of medium priority, use instant messaging. Whatsapp, SMS and other instant messaging applications can be accessed via mobile devices, which means that the receiver should be able to read the message even if they are on the go. This method is used usually when you need a fast response but the matter is not urgent enough to warrant a phone call.



Finally, for urgent matters that require immediate action…call. Why bother with typing out a long message and then waiting for a reply when you can just get the reply immediately with a short phone call?

If you are unsure about whether to call, text or email your colleagues during certain situations, the general rule of thumb is to just exercise some common sense. Think about what you would prefer if you were on the receiving end, and then extend that same courtesy to your colleagues.


Zell Low

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