Like many of the second generation tech geeks who grew up with the internet, I came of age communicating on e-mail, IM, txts, and IRC. As a teenager, the phone was reserved for very personal conversations or emergencies, and snail mail was a relic of the past that was used to send bills and junk mail. It was hardly ever used for personal communication, with the rare exception of holiday cards.

Over the course of working in the social service field and starting in on a hobby that I have found to very much still be a one to one personal relationship business, I have become more comfortable and effective on the phone. I do not however particularly enjoy handling logistics this way. I do not think it is a particularly effective use of time.

Web based and more personal communication styles such as phone calls or face to face meetings both have their place. The trick is balancing their usage, and choosing the correct communication style for the task. Most people become comfortable with one way of communicating and that is what they use. I will admit that I am guilty of this on occasion myself. If you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail and all that.

The trick, as with most things, is finding an effective balance. What I have found is that the phone is best used for communications that require either a personal international, or a long explanation of information. Text based communications such as e-mail or txting is much more effective for arranging logistics, those short exchanges of dates, times, and places, where it is critical that everyone has accurate details but that a personal touch is not particularly needed.

My general rule of thumb is to pick up the phone if I need information not generally available, and to send an email if I am arranging for something to be done. I have found that there is no need to interrupt someone and take up their time when making arrangements. Besides, it is always best to have a written copy that can be referred to when it is time to act on the arrangements you made. At the same time, when it is time to confer with someone on details, or you need to exchange ideas that take time to communicate, the phone is the better option.

The final decision of which type of communication to use, for me usually comes down to the choice between positives of real time conversation or correct future action, and the negatives of taking up time or delayed response.