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Communications

Communicating Persuasively, Email or Face-to-Face? 165

Jeremy Dean writes "Our intuitive understanding is that face-to-face communication is the most persuasive. In reality, of course, it's not always possible to meet in person, so email wins out. How, then, do people react to persuasion attempts over email? Persuasion research has uncovered fascinating effects: that men seem more responsive to email because it bypasses their competitive tendencies (Guadagno & Cialdini, 2002). Women, however, may respond better in face-to-face encounters because they are more 'relationship-minded'. But is this finding just a gender stereotype?"
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Communicating Persuasively, Email or Face-to-Face?

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  • Email has failed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 25, 2007 @10:25AM (#18478437)

    ask the Airline industry, we invent all these ways to communicate over vast distances, VOIP, Telephone, IM, Email etc etc and people are flying to meet each other more than ever

    • People also fly to put themselves in a better climate (beach holiday) or to immerse themselves in a foreign culture (just talking to a couple of foreign dudes is nothing like actually walking in, say, a Middle Eastern souq).
    • Re:Email has failed (Score:5, Interesting)

      by blahplusplus ( 757119 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @11:21AM (#18478833)
      "Email has failed"

      Speak for yourself buddy. Email and IM are enormous boons to keeping in contact and making friends who share common interests across the world, what is slashdot if not a giant email discussion list in the form of a bulletin board?

      The real problem I believe is that email isn't personal enough and good videocamera's integrated into computers for "email" the next big thing is vloging or "vlogging" if someone finally made a workable video phone with optional image broadcast with a decent display and ratio adjuster, that just worked everywhere. It would sell, believe you me.
      • by GWBasic ( 900357 )

        if someone finally made a workable video phone with optional image broadcast with a decent display and ratio adjuster, that just worked everywhere. It would sell, believe you me.

        Try a Mac with Skype. Both the iMac and the Macbooks have built-in video cameras. I flew with my Macbook Pro to Europe, pluged it into an Ethernet jack, and had a perfect Skype video conversation with loved ones living in the US.

        At this point, the obstacle to video calls isn't hardware. It's that networking doesn't work very we

    • The summary (and presumably, the article, no I didn't RTFA) seems to think that the only reason for communication is persuasion. If it were, perhaps the long distance communication methods would work just fine for men according to the article. The fact that people still fly out to meet each other does not contradict the article because people do communicate for other purposes as well. Maybe they only fly out to meet each other when it is for purposes other than persuasion (I don't think so, but who knows
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vertinox ( 846076 )
      Email has failed only if you use it for marketing or as a persuasion tool. As for communicating information it works fairly well.

      However, perhaps we should be looking at these other problem... Persuasion.

      Personally, I'll have none of it and I don't understand businesses that get talked into deals with cold call sales vendors. (Cold call in the industry means they call you first rather than the customer calling the sales department)

      First of all, if you are running a business you should not have to persuade y
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I agree that I would rather work in a company where no persuasion had to occur - where the self-evident value of the goods and services we sold was enough to establish a consumer base and a revenue stream. However, if you're pioneering anything, you're going to need to do some persuading, trust me.

        Back around when the dot com bubble burst, nobody knew what SSL VPN was. There was no market. Then, a few companies figured out that it would be valuable for Sammy in Sales to be able to access internal company

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by anothy ( 83176 )
        i think you've totally misunderstood what "persuasion" is about. or rather you've taken some particular degenerate form as all there is.

        what you've described is basically bribery or coercion. sure, those happen, and are much more prevalent in some industries than others. i've worked in environments where "Sales" consisted mostly of explaining the benefits of your product, helping whoever you're talking to understand them, why it's a better choice than your competitors' products, and why they should trust y
      • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @08:53PM (#18482703) Journal

        First of all, if you are running a business you should not have to persuade your employees, coworkers, or higher ups. Persuading your employees to comply shouldn't be that hard of a task and if they don't then it isn't because you aren't a good persuader but rather perhaps they are the wrong employee for the job (or perhaps you are asking them to do something they simply can't do or isn't actually their job in the first place).

        Management by decree is a great way to ensure that you lose good talent. If you are having trouble getting them to comply, it is possible that there's a problem with the employee. But it's more likely that they need to be brought "on board" -- full participation. That is what the persuasion is for. All the staff at my company already have their hands full. If management needs someone to do something additional, then the employees must be persuaded that the new project is more important than the work they have pending. Or they need to be peruaded to work some additional hours.

        As for work that "isn't actually their job in the first place," that's a valid argument only in companies with well-defined roles (typically large ones). In small and mid-sized business, many people wear many hats.

        However, persuading higher ups and coworkers isn't your job either. If you have to do a song and dance with a power point presentation every time to the CEO every time you need to get something approved to do your basic job functions then perhaps your employers don't trust you or they just don't care well enough to put into place a system into which you can perform your job independently but with oversight. Of course thats more of a management issue...

        Also way off base. A manager is responsible for what goes on in their department; what happens when their boss asks why X was implemented at a cost of $Y? This is one reason why you need to persuade your manager of what is necessary. Another reason they need to be persuaded is that they are balancing a lot more in the decision-making process than you probably realize. They may be privy to information you are not. They may have been given a directive that runs counter to your proposal.

        In fact, people with authorization to buy products or services should be hired on the sole fact they are not easily persuaded and do not take bribes from vendors.

        What do you mean by 'bribes'? That's a harsh word for a business lunch, or a couple drinks in the evening. Kickbacks are a problem, but I don't think that's what you're talking about.

        They should be the ones cold calling the vendors and then asking for plain cold information in emails and then not respond to the vendors relentless voice mails and not wasting company money going to meetings with countless vendors when they already know what product/service the company should buy.

        You don't do a lot of purchasing, do you? How do you think you get vendors to offer you their absolute best terms? How do you think you build a relationship with a vendor so that when you need a part delivered *right now* they do it with a smile and at no charge? What about when you need to negotiate looser payment terms? Or when a part dies a month after warranty expiration, and you want to get a free replacement anyway?

        I used to think that purchasing etc should be a matter of pure numbers, as you seem to think. But as the years have gone by, I've discovered that all those non-quotables really pay off when push comes to shove, and it's the personal relationships that drive them.

        The next time you have a complaint about shoddy service (and we all have them) maybe you should think about building a relationship with a supplier so that *you* matter to them?
        • While I'll aggree that persuading people _can_ go a long way, if you have that talent, I'd also like to say that most people are better off not even trying.

          It's sorta like being funny. Most people think they're hilarious, and that their "cat pooping" video on YouTube, or their "haha, watch me pretend to be a teenage japanese girl" IRC log, is the greatest barrel of laughs in recorded history. Most aren't actually, and their "funny" stuff actually range anywhere from "more boring than watching paint dry" to
          • And for the constructive part, my own impression is that rather than trying to be persuasive, when in doubt, it's better to be just open and fair.

            Being persuasive does not exclude being open and fair. If I need someone to do something, more often than not, part of persuading them that it's in their best interests to do so is to be completely open about it.

            I think we must have different definitions of what persuading someone is. It doesn't have to be dishonest (I find honesty works best anyway), it doesn'

            • Well, if all that doesn't apply to you, as I was saying, kudos and more power to you. You certainly have my respect in that case.

              The problem is that a lot of other people, especially in large corporations, don't quite share your views. In a lot of cases, even if the boss wanted to be open, the many layers of management usually mean he has no clue either why some decision was taken. And then there are the many which don't want to in the first place. I've had the dubious honour, for example, to work for a whi
      • "First of all, if you are running a business you should not have to persuade your employees, coworkers, or higher ups."

        In entry level perhaps, once you get any form of authority or responsibility you will always be persuading higher ups or employees. If your manager comes up with an idea and you disagree, you have to persuade them they are wrong. Just saying "you are wrong, take my word for it" will not suffice. This applies even moreso when dealing with customers. A customer will never just take your w
    • How about a little causal analysis?
      People fly more to
      • Blow that travel budget, since there is no incentive to ecomomize
      • Exchange information, with lower likelihood of that information growing teeth and biting their naughty bits
      • Give the extremists something about which to preach
      I'm still getting tons of email, some of it of the non-spam variety.
    • It is all too easy to get entangled in a email flamewar on some list. Only rarely your opponent will not only give in, but be persuaded that your point of view is the right one. The trick is to avoid those situations alltogether. Or unsubscribe :)
  • Ya well... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Try not to overthink this. Of course people can be persuaded via email, you just need to get to know them first before-hand. Legit (non-spam) email marketing is a huge business.
  • by BadERA ( 107121 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @10:28AM (#18478465) Homepage
    The more technologyically-friendly one is, the easier it is to persuade them by email. The more details-oriented one is, the easier it is to persuade them by email. The more "frat boy and golf games" on is, the harder it is, typically, to persuade them over email.
    • by electrosoccertux ( 874415 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @11:42AM (#18478987)
      What do you do if you suck at persuasion face to face? Or simply talking, for that matter? When I write an email I'm able to think about what I say before I say it and rearrange things after the fact if it comes out wrong. Can't do that in conversation, you have to get it right the first time, and know exactly where you're going and how you're going to get there before you start. Been trying for years, but simply can't. What then? In my opinion a good email would be better than a bad face to face impression.
      • by BadERA ( 107121 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @11:59AM (#18479127) Homepage
        I hear ya there, and used to feel like I was in the same boat. Practice makes perfect though -- the more f2f time you get, the more refined your skills become.
        • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @12:26PM (#18479381)
          Mod this guy waaaay up... the key to getting better working with people is NOT to hide behind a computer. If persuasion is your goal, the guy going face-to-face will always beat out the guy exclusively using email. That is why the world still has salesmen.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by zrq ( 794138 )

            That is why the world still has salesmen.

            It depends on who you are trying to communicate to.

            Like the parent post, I find email or text easier to than face to face communication. So, if you want to sell your idea / product to me, then well written technical documentation will get a much better reception than a talkative salesman. In fact, a sales talk from someone in a suit is the best way to put me off.

            • You are absolutely right, but with a few exceptions, the man at the top is usually of the face-to-face variety. Nerds rarely end up being the final word in big purchases - which is probably the root of why corporations tend to be so f'd up... things like a sales visit can mean more than the well-crafted presentation from the resident geek.
      • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @12:29PM (#18479409)
        I think you have a point about writing being better thought out. The problem is, some people simply don't work that way. I know a couple guys at work to whom I just don't bother writing detailed emails, because every time I've tried, it's obvious they simply don't read them, no matter how important they are and how well I craft the language.

        Similarly, I used to wonder why people travel to expensive training courses when you can get all the same information from a book - which is usually better organized and from a more authoritative source, anyways. But I've realized, many people simply do not, and will not, sit down and master the information in a book to save their lives. Even successful people. You have to sit them in a room with minimal distractions and engage them face to face.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by anothy ( 83176 )

          But I've realized, many people simply do not, and will not, sit down and master the information in a book to save their lives.

          or can not. when i was in grade school everyone in a certain grade (3rd, i think) was given a set of tests (WISC tests?). part of these tests were designed to determine how one learned best: written, oral, what kind of repetition was important, and so on. it was very interesting (obviously much more so now that i'm older and can look back at what was going on). myself, i can read den

        • Similarly, I used to wonder why people travel to expensive training courses when you can get all the same information from a book - which is usually better organized and from a more authoritative source, anyways.

          Usually it has less to do with learning style and more to do with having an expense account plus not having go to work. Let's see: buy a book and read it on your own time and still maybe have your $42 expense denied, or take three days off from work, get the source, and have free meals? Work tra

      • by gr8dude ( 832945 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @03:52PM (#18480739) Homepage

        Can't do that in conversation, you have to get it right the first time, and know exactly where you're going and how you're going to get there before you start.
        Correct; the only problem is that you want it to happen instantly - which is exactly why it ends up in failure.

        I've been researching this issue myself and I concluded that the solution is not to let somebody push you towards a quick answer. Things done/said in haste are usually not well-planned. What email does is that it gives you that ability to take your time and think things over; you can do the same in a real discussion by not replying if you don't have an answer. Tell them that you don't know yet, tell them that you need some extra time, but don't talk out of /dev/random.

        Many people know this and use this against us - the trick is to force someone provide a quick answer to a question. The person who answers focuses on providing a fast solution, rather than providing an optimal solution - this is where we lose. I also have to add that those who generate the questions that are 'designed' to knock us down are people who carefully plan their attack. In conversations they can bring up non-essential things that you will waste your CPU cycles on, while they think about their next 'hit'.

        Another idea is that you are afraid that the person you're having a conversation with will laugh at you (in the worst case) if you tell them you can't provide an immediate answer. But fear that not, any reasonable human being is understanding and only someone unpolite and ignorant will have something against your taking your time. Personally, I never push people towards making decisions in a rush, I admire those who are not afraid to tell me that they are 'not ready' yet, and I try to avoid those who consciously use this technique as an 'offensive weapon'.
        • Wow great point, thanks for posting.
        • by jafiwam ( 310805 )
          You just described one of my co-workers to the letter.

          So. What does one do with such a person?

          I have started simply interrupting and saying something along the lines of "which question would you like me to answer?"
          • by gr8dude ( 832945 )
            Note: I am not an expert in the field.

            I don't think there is a universal strategy against such folk, but there are some generic steps you can base your strategy on.

            If you are a person who does not like to talk much, or fast, always lean towards "I will send you an email in delta minutes, I got a draft and it is almost complete"; or carry a notebook and a pen to make sketches during the conversation while you're getting your message across. Paper and pen are great tools - the bottleneck is in your spee
      • There is no law saying you can't think about what you are going to say, before you start talking to someone. Think about the point you want to make, think about reasons supporting your decision, and think about possible detractions for your decision and responses to them. This is something you should do, whenever you need to make a case.

        And if someone comes in to see you to talk about something important, just pretend that the phone rang, and you will get back to them later.
      • There's a few people in my organization that face-to-face or telephone, though the thought is nauseating, in the end is probably better. I've found myself wordsmithing emails on some occasions for over an hour, each sentence generating fifty potential misinterpretations and some exponential number of horrifyingly tedious imaginary follow-ups. The adrenaline-surge knee-jerk first response in person would probably be every bit as valid and might be reduced to a simple hand gesture, which would save everyone i
    • I love the expression. However tenpting it is to mock, much business is done this way. It is a question of establishing trust and relationships. This is not a question of spec sheets!

      Or more accurately, the decisionmakers don't understand the material well enough to use technical discussions as a mechanism for trust-building and/or don't trust their own technical specialists' judgement.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by podperson ( 592944 )
      The more technologyically-friendly one is, the easier it is to persuade them by email. The more details-oriented one is, the easier it is to persuade them by email. The more "frat boy and golf games" on is, the harder it is, typically, to persuade them over email.

      You need to read TFA.

      The point you're making is simply wrong -- the study actually showed no such relationship between technology usage and persuadability via email. On average (according to the studies), persuasion via email works about as well as
  • by MarkPNeyer ( 729607 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @10:33AM (#18478493)
    Can't we do science without worrying about whether we're hurting someone's feelings? This is just getting ridiculous.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      IMHO there are far too many variables unaccounted for for this to be science. For example, is a man going to be more persuaded by an email or a woman they are very much attracted to? How about someone with a very short attention span? Are they really going to sit and read a well thought out argument presented as a block of text?

      Generalisations made in this manner are rarely helpful. They may turn out to be correct but really do need some scrutiny first.
      • by MarkPNeyer ( 729607 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @11:00AM (#18478699)
        If that's so, ask the question 'is this science valid,' not 'is this a stereotype?'
        • If that's so, ask the question 'is this science valid,' not 'is this a stereotype?'

          Well, the problem is that some people put disproportionate effort into presenting prejudice and stereotypes as somehow hard science. The British went to great lengths to "prove" that the Irish are somehow tiny-brained sub-humans, Nazi Germany produced _tons_ of pseudo-science as to why the Aryan race are super-humans and why Jews and Slavs are sub-humans, etc. All the way back to ancieng Greece, you have people who devoted ti

    • Yes, exactly. Ya know, there ARE differences between men and women. They should be embraced, not treated as though they are a slam. vie la différence!
    • Can't we do science without worrying about whether we're hurting someone's feelings? This is just getting ridiculous.

      Amen.

  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @10:34AM (#18478501) Homepage Journal
    Many years ago the game industry did some research on internet based communications. For online gaming purposes.
    Overall they found that communication can more easily degenerate into flames over the internet than into being productive as opposed to face to face communication.

    Ultimately each mode of communication has its upside and down side and side effects.
  • Eh, email sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @10:40AM (#18478539)
    When I am writing something personal, I always end up over analyzing everything I write. I sit, rewrite, write it again, delete it all write again and it just seems to never end so it sounds "perfect."

    At least for my personal life I like face to face because I am forced to be more "genuine" and say what pops into my head.
  • A reference, on Slashdot?! You must be new here.
  • ..... all yo can do is plead!
    A lot of the art of persuasion requires the persuader to apply some form of pressure (usually non-physical) onto their intended victim. This makes the victim cave-in to remove the pressure. Email just doesn't have that kind of "presence" (see todays Dilbert) it's just too easy to ignore it.

    The best you can do is have an overwhelming reason why your request must be complied with - and to CC the email to your victim's boss.

    On the other side, email is a great leveller. Peopl

    • A lot of the art of persuasion requires the persuader to apply some form of pressure (usually non-physical) onto their intended victim.

      Yes, and I believe the appropriate form of communication depends on which kind of "pressure" you're able to apply. Sometimes the pressure is intellectual: a good argument. In this case, the form of communication should just be whichever form helps you make the argument better. Sometimes e-mail lets you think things out better.

      You mention CCing the boss of the recipient, a

  • Er, phone? (Score:3, Informative)

    by thewils ( 463314 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @10:49AM (#18478615) Journal
    I know it's old fashioned tech, but it seems to work OK. As a slashpoll this article has remarkably few options.
    • Arranging a teleconference between half a dozen people at different sites takes more time than actually holding it. Yes it is necessary sometimes, but it sure is hard work finding a time when everybody is available. I can't imagine how people ever managed to arrange teleconferences at all before email :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 26199 ( 577806 ) *

      I dislike calling coworkers. Partly because it requires them to drop what they're doing, which seems a bit rude. Fortunately where I work I can usually just wander over and talk to people.

      Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, email is for anything with >1 day deadline, face to face is for anything urgent or unexpected. (i.e. asking for a favour).

      • I hate the phone for exactly that reason. I had a coworker who would piss me off because he'd call for absolutely anything, regardless of whether or not it was an immediate need. I got to where I would refuse to answer the phone. He started IMing me things like "hey, ur there!?" If I ask him what he wanted, every other line was "can i call u?"

        The worse bit was that he was a non-native English speaker and I couldn't fucking understand him on the phone.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Red Flayer ( 890720 )

        I dislike calling coworkers. Partly because it requires them to drop what they're doing, which seems a bit rude. Fortunately where I work I can usually just wander over and talk to people.

        I'm constantly interrupted at the office, which gets in the way of handling my work. I much prefer when people call, as I can let the voicemail take it and address their question(s) when I have time -- I normally set aside an hour or so in the afternoon. Email is even better, since I check it frequently.

        As for people w

        • by 26199 ( 577806 ) *

          Depends on the place I suppose. I've never seen anybody ignore the phone and leave it for voicemail.

          I like to think that if it's important enough to interrupt someone, their full attention will be required because I will have an intelligent question :)... if it's not important enough, I will email. Or (better still) work it out on my own.

          *shrug*

  • Face to Face (Score:2, Informative)

    by rwwyatt ( 963545 )
    Since I am an avid Slashdot reader, I haven't ventured out of the basement for many years.

    I have learned how to write a persuasive email, and I usually follow it up with a phone call as well.
  • I guess Guadagno and Cialdini were more interested in the way email compares to face to face stuff, but it seems odd not to consider the telephone as an aspect of this study. The telephone offers a sort of sense of 'oneness' and familiarity with the voice, while still masking subtle cues that might otherwise lead to competitive or uncooperative behavior.
  • But is this finding just a gender stereotype?

    Yes. This is, to be more specific, just another example of the phenomenon that people will research anything which will press peoples' buttons. Whether it is valuable research or not. Who gives these people grants?

    My cat fetches; will someone give me a grant? I want to find out whether he is a dog.
  • This is my personal email axiom.

    Nothing Ever Happens Over Email.

    There has to be some kind of interactive contact. Phone is okay. Face to face is best. But in my experience and those with whom I work, nothing is ever initiated, negotiated, and settled over email. Trying to do so kills potential projects. Switching over to phone or face-to-face always increases the chance of success.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AusIV ( 950840 )
      Interesting. I'm a college student and do some free-lance web design for grad students with my extra time. On two different projects, I've been introduced to my client by e-mail, discussed what they need the site to do, negotiated a price, delivered the finished product all by e-mail. In one case, I picked up the check in person - meeting my client for the first time. In the other case the client sent a check through campus mail and I never met them in person.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by venomkid ( 624425 )
        I don't mean to disparage what you're doing. I'm a freelancer myself and I love to see people going for it on their own, so good on you and I wish you continued success. But keep in mind you're doing web work for grad students. That's pretty different from doing development for a large corporation, law firm, nonprofit, or otherwise churning business entity.

        I may be dealing with a generation gap in a sense - most of the people I provide services to are a good bit older than I am. But even if they do use
  • by unfortunateson ( 527551 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @11:04AM (#18478733) Journal
    I telecommute to a company six hundred miles away, and persuasion by email is impossible.

    I send proposal after proposal, request for comment after request, but most of my coworkers -- which are located in the same facility -- see non-customer emails as the lowest priorities, and consider them pretty much ignorable.

    My boss (non pointy haired, but not much better) included.

    And I'm a pretty persuasive writer (maybe not this message).
    But if it doesn't get read, it doesn't get responded to.

    So at least once a month, I have to commute to what has become my least favorite airport in the US, just to get a face-to-face decision or committment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by redelm ( 54142 )
      My sympathies. But I'd say your problem stems mostly from a lack-of-attention [ignorability] more than unpersuasiveness. Your colleagues ignore your emails, yet you don't ignore theirs. The telecommuter is often a second-class corporate citizen. Especially since the boss doesn't see any need to make adjustments.

      The real thing is you are probably asking people for things that will cost them and not give back much except to the corporation via your projects. They're busy, so will ignore you if they can.

    • So at least once a month, I have to commute to what has become my least favorite airport in the US, just to get a face-to-face decision or committment.

      Like I said in a post above, if you find yourself having to persuade management constantly to make decisions in order to do your job, then it is usually a management problem. Usually they have given you responsibility without authority to act on those responsibilities (usually your management has the reverse in those instances... authority without responsibil
    • most of my coworkers -- which are located in the same facility -- see non-customer emails as the lowest priorities, and consider them pretty much ignorable.
      I don't telecommute, but I've experienced the same kind of thing. Especially if the message is trying to convince someone to do something, it's very easy for them just to avoid replying.

      I think people also tend to be unwilling to make a final decision via e-mail. They seem to need face time in order to believe that everyone is really on board. I thi

    • You need to schedule follow up teleconferences to discuss the proposals and get on the phone and call them. You can even setup conferences so that is dials out to the other participants.

      If at the teleconference you find out people aren't reading your proposals find out when they can have them reviewed, and schedule another teleconference.

      If you continue to suffer the noncooperation, especially from your boss, find another job because you obviously aren't needed where you are.

    • I've observed the same phenomenon from two other perspectives:

      1.) Working at a foreign branch of a US-based company. Many employees of US companies think that because they work at the "mother ship" they can dictate the way the foreign branch works without the responsibility of making sure the necessary resources and know-how are available to achieve their demands. So you get this "you have to use technology X for your project because we sell technology X", but when you write to ask about some detail of te
  • Never email in Anger or frustration.

    The person who is reading the email should feel the puckering of your lips from any distance!
  • The submission and blog entry pose the question, but don't really answer it:

    * How is "oneness" measured and quantified?

    * How is suasion measured and quantified?

    * Scatter plot of the two for the different modes (email, face-to-face) for different gender combinations? Perhaps, with statistical measures (e.g., regression figures)?

    * Subject selection protocol and any caveats?

    Maybe write back when the paper is actually published.
  • Also, there's still one better way. Leaving a comment on their MySpace. Should persuade anyone.
  • Spam (Score:2, Funny)

    by RockMFR ( 1022315 )
    If a chick came up to me in real life and said, "HEY BABY CUM CHECK OUT MY WEBCAM," I'd definitely be more persuaded. However, I don't think anybody could convince me that I need to enlarge 4 to 6 cm. My penis is just fine right now.
  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @11:24AM (#18478849) Homepage
    Marshall McLuan said [of TV]: "The Medium is the Message." That is an atstute observation, but turn it around and it really says the medium is part of the message.

    Media have characteristics. Messages have characteristics. It is best they work in harmony.

    For a concrete example, I usually avoid communicating a complex controversial idea verbally. It's too confrontational and recepients may miss key points or react too early and get themselves locking into an unnecessarily contrary position. Beter they read and react in private, then calm down before replying.

    In person is very good for using body language when sincerity or other emotions are important components of the message. Phone is not quite as good, but often a very workable intermediate.

    But I certainly don't consider in-person to be any sort of "gold standard" in communications. Too many different messages.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by petes_PoV ( 912422 )
      I usually avoid communicating a complex controversial idea verbally

      Actually I do the opposite. The reason is that people's expressions are the most reliable indicator of whether they understand and/or like what they are hearing. If you talk through a complex issue, it's much easier to see where they are getting hung up. You can then spend more time talking about the parts your audience misunderstands or disagrees with.

      Email is too slow for this kind of interaction and phones just don't give you the full

  • by bifodus ( 928991 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @11:31AM (#18478879) Journal
    ...that you can't communicate effectively unless you can get an entire point across without interruption. If I need to actually persuade someone, nothing makes more sense than email. With verbal communication, the listener can butt-in whenever they feel like it, and do many things to ultimately conceal my point.
    • ... that people are very, very capable when it comes to ignoring the written word. You can send someone a reasonably sized, carefully worded, well thought-out block of text trying to explain something, trying to convey your goodwill, or whatever, and they will simply skim it, or not read it at all. You have no way of knowing if they looked at it or, if they read it, if they've understood it without asking futher questions with more emails, which may also get ignored. In a face-to-face conversation, it's usu
  • I'd think (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ucblockhead ( 63650 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @11:41AM (#18478969) Homepage Journal
    It'd depend more on the person trying to do the persuading. Who hasn't met someone who in person has great charisma but writes emails like "so dude u shd totally do it it rocks!!!!" Who hasn't met someone who in person fumbles around with speech full of "ums" and "uhs", but writes clear, concise and persuasive emails?
    • by ivan256 ( 17499 )
      It doesn't depend at all. People can ignore e-mails, disable return receipts, not answer their phone when they see the call ID... But when you're standing right in front of them, you've got their attention and you've got them on the spot for an answer. Face to face wins hands down, and it's not even a close contest.
      • I dunno, they could always start masturbating and crying. That would pretty much make you want to go away.....
  • by tinrobot ( 314936 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @11:43AM (#18478997)
    Face to face time is certainly important, but I'm always amazed at how differently people remember conversations, and how quickly people forget key parts of those conversations. Without some sort of record, it's hard to pin people down on what actually transpired. Email is less personal, but at least you have a written record.

    For important things, you always have to follow up the conversation with an email just to keep things straight. (unless you're in politics, then you should never use email so you won't get caught in your lies)
  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @12:00PM (#18479133)
    it's face/face communication that wins almost every time.

    Sales pitches and closing a deal is easiest in person. Next on the phone. Almost never via email exclusively - but does happen.

    When you're trying to sell something, be it an idea or a product, most of the time the person you're selling the idea or concept to could get something that will work from anyone. What you're selling is confidence that you will be able to deliver, implement, whatever. It's much easier to communicate genuine confidence in skills, product or ability with other cues besides words - be it voice inflection, posture, facial expression, etc.

    No rocket science here.
  • e-mail persuasion works the best when there is a doom feasibility of hardcopy communication. Hard, as in "or do you want me to come to your cubicle hole and feed you your own balls?".
  • by Cruxus ( 657818 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @12:38PM (#18479491) Journal

    The hierarchy of effective communication goes something like this:

    1. African drums
    2. Smoke signals
    3. Cell phone with bad reception
    4. Face-to-face communication
    5. Instant messaging ;)
    6. E-mail
    7. E-MAIL WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS LIKE THIS WITH LOTS AND LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS FOR ADDED EXTRA EMPHASIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • At the point of gun. Works for government.
  • Face to face is when you can use your personality and the intimacy of the situation of influence the discussion. The converse is true; you can use your personal presence to intimidate the other party as well.

    Email, on the other hand, can be used when the other person might think your you have something to hide, "if they saw your face" or if you want to bury some facts deep within a dense bit a email. The converse is also true, if you are not particularly intimidating in person, you might have a better chanc
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by anothy ( 83176 )

      When considering F2F vs. Email think about the following as well. Face to face, you have to think on your feet and "roll w/ the punches" while emails can be much more crafted, thought-out, and cogent.

      you write like this is a cost or risk of face to face communications, but in fact (at least in my experience) it's the biggest benefit. in several ways.

      first, note that there are lots and lots of cases where the person you're communicating with will explicitly be trying to gauge your ability to respond to thos

      • by hhawk ( 26580 )
        My point is that each method has some advantage and that in part it depends on the person who speaking or typing.

        Your reply implies that everyone communicates well in person... and that is certainly not the case, although I would say I am personally better face to face than through email.

        Your reply also implies that the person speaking is trying to communicate accurately and clearly. Some times people are more interested in deceit. I'm sure there are more bad actors than good. I doubt I could look someone i
        • by anothy ( 83176 )

          Your reply implies that everyone communicates well in person... and that is certainly not the case, although I would say I am personally better face to face than through email.

          hrm. that was certainly not my intent; i explicitly agree with you that this isn't true. but that's an implementation failure, not a design issue. my point was that face to face communication inherently contains the opportunity to demonstrate quick thinking, to be responsive to questions, and to resolve confusion or uncertainty on the

  • Show us your t... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @12:53PM (#18479623)
    A man might be more easily persueded by another man over e-mail, but nothing can beat the viscerally persuasive power of a woman with a low cut top and short skirt.
  • Use Both (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tom's a-cold ( 253195 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @01:04PM (#18479691) Homepage
    I use email for anything where you need a document trail, and for communications that can lead to a resolution in one or two rounds of messages. I use phone calls, IM, a handwritten note, leaving documents on someone's chair, or face-to-face for anything else. "Anything else" includes most things that matter. For example, giving feedback via email is generally not optimal.

    The ancient Greeks taught their ambitious young men (not women, those were even more sexist times than we're in now) logic and rhetoric. Both were necessary in order to be effective. I learned to be more persuasive and more effective at emotionally engaging with my coworkers and customers because people are not solely motivated by logic when making decisions. Even people who regard themselves as entirely rational. There were far too many times when technically correct decisions were stymied by other concerns that were emotional in origin. It's one thing to know the right thing to do. It's entirely another thing to convince other people that it's right. People are judging you all the time, and part of what they're judging is your conviction, your confidence, your sense of urgency, their impression of your ability to make something happen, and whether you're such a pain in the ass that they don't want to deal with you even if you do get things done. In business (as opposed to peer-reviewed journals) all those things matter, and initiatives fail if the chemistry is wrong. Even in peer-reviewed journals, reviewers are responsive to the reputation of the authors and social interactions influence review outcomes.

    So sometimes you need to use irrational means to achieve rational ends. And that's because we are not machines, we're social. We need to engage on more than just the level of logic, even though we're in a business where logical decision-making is necessary.

    It's also worth keeping in mind that people work, think and interact differently, so email might work well for one person but face-to-face is the best way to interact with someone else. These simplistic "works for men, not for women" conclusions are too shallow to be actionable.

    The principle I follow is to over-communicate, never to rely on a single communication channel when communicating anything important, and to learn what works best for different people.

  • As per my other posting on a thread about Second Life real estate, only face to face allows for true understanding and use of our 5 natural senses. Email or other 'written' communication should then be used for confirmation of specific information, such as contracts, events planning, meetings etc! Common sense really!
  • One of the pitfalls of making comparison such as between email to face to face meetings is that in real life situations, people do not look at average values, but marginal values. Average values are useless when you are dealing with complex relationships.

    If you are deciding to email somebody or to make a meeting, you don't ask "is it better on average to email or to have a meeting." You ask "at this point am I better off sending an email or having a meeting."

    Suppose you've just spent a week locked in a co
  • But is this finding just a gender stereotype?"
    Of course it isn't. But their explanation of the finding might be. I wish people would learn the difference.
  • This story is retarded and points out why communications is crap. If you need to get ahold of someone, you do it however you need to. However, you know damn good and well that person to person is always the way to have a discussion if you want the maximum impact, as it's a lot harder to ignore someone in person, while it is fairly easy to not pay attention or to skim their points via email/phone/etc.

    After a while in college, and several required communications classes, I came to the conclusion that commu
    • How "retarded" do you have to be to confuse "communications" with "psychology"? The blog is a psychology blog and the researchers are experimental psychologists.

      (I actually kind of agree with you about Communications and I hear that most experimental psychologists would too...)

      "However, you know damn good and well that person to person is always the way to have a discussion if you want the maximum impact, as it's a lot harder to ignore someone in person, while it is fairly easy to not pay attention or to sk
  • While I do believe you can avoid the competiton part by using email, I do not agree that it's more persuasive. If you talk to someone with whom you have a competitive relationship then you need to take advantage of that. Let the other person "win" the competition (with his consious mind) as you persuade him (subconsiously). Of course this is more manipulation than it is persuasion so Cialdini still has a valid point.

    Btw - If you're into persuasion you need to read Cialdinis other works. He has some great in
  • ... because I have speech and hearing impediments. Verbal communication is much worse for me because of my disabilities. However, I am much better in communications via e-mails, chat, forums, IMs, and anything else that doesn't require verbal communications (can't do braille).

    I also face the same problem with people ignoring my e-mails, IMs, chats, etc. I have to follow-up often to remind them. :(

    Are there any other best tips to improve their responses?
  • I can't imagine why people would have trouble communicating via email -- male or female. Behold, snippets of actual user emails I receive from allegedly professional, successful adults with college educations:
    These are actual emails I receive, daily, from the users at a telecom for which I work.

    this phone has not worked in 2 days
    error message is : failed to get boot parameters
    via dHCP or whatever
    please fix the phones
    THANKS
    "Via DHCP or whatever." Thanks.

    WHY ARE THE PHONES NOT WORKING
    That was the whole email. In its entirety.

    Main number DOES NOT WORK and answers as DISCONNECTED. This number was successfully ported to you guys in August/September, and has otherwise been working fine !!!!!!!!!!!!!! We need this number to work ASAP!!!!!!!!!!
    I swear to you I did not add a single exclamation point to that. Also, if you can tell me how "does not work" and "otherwise works fine" fit together, I'm listening.

    FOR THE LAST 4 DAYS WE CANNOT MAKE OUTGOING CALLS TO 800 OR 866 NUMBERS. IT GOES TO A QUICK BUSY SOUND. PLS ADVISE.
    "Pls" turn off your caps lock and learn to spell.

    NOW you fucking tell me that? When in the fuck did you ever tell me I
    would need a router or switch? Eveyone has those laying around?

    And you also said I could plug it into the wall. What kind of
    instruction is that? Do I just kick a hole in the wall big enough for a
    USB connection, or does everyone have working sockets in their wall to
    accomodate phone systems in case they get one?

    Where do I get a fucking router or switch and how much more am I going
    to have to spend? And where does THAT plug in?

    I paid for a fucking phone that would plug into my computer, God damnit.
    This was the response to a salesguy from my company telling the customer that the VoIP phone plugs into a router, not the modem jack on his Mac. I really wish I was making this one up.

    You'll notice a pattern to these, as well. Specifically, people who have fairly severe problems, but don't tell anyone for days at a time, then dash off a barely-coherent, OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE message into the ether. This is what passes for proper business correspondance these days, and to these people, blithering about a problem days, weeks, or even months after the fact is a perfectly rational way to behave.

    These are people who will go on and on about how successful they are with their little mortgage broker jobs or what-have-you. These are men AND women who read and write at the sixth-grade level.

    Email fails to communicate -- not because of the medium, but because of the mouth-breathers who use it.
  • > men seem more responsive to email because it bypasses their competitive tendencies

    Which is profoundly contradicted by research on flaming:

    http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=967562&dl=AC M&coll=&CFID=15151515&CFTOKEN=6184618 [acm.org]

    http://www.indiana.edu/~tisj/readers/full-text/15- 3%20guest.html [indiana.edu]

    The lack of "media richness" in email makes its intent easier to mistake. Males tend to jump to conclusions because the tend to try to problem-solve everything (especially when the problem is figuring

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