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On escalating communication: who, what, and where.

Knowing what to say and who to say it to is not enough, says Jeff Atwood:

Understand the strengths and weaknesses of the particular communication medium youve chosen. Dont doggedly pursue the same method of communication when youve clearly outgrown it. They do not stretch to fit.

Know when to escalate from IM to email, from email to phone, and when to drop the ultimate communication A-bomb: a face-to-face meeting. Sometimes people are hesitant to escalate communications even when its painfully obvious that they should. Resist the urge to reply in kind, however tempting it may be. You’ll both have a more productive conversation when one of you finds the wherewithal to escalate to “lets take this to email”, “let me call you”, or even “lets meet for coffee”.

via Coding Horror: On Escalating Communication.

I might use the term transition instead of escalate, but the meaning is the same. Just because a conversation begins in email doesn’t mean it has to stay there. As Merlin Mann says, “What’s the action here?” Probably not a 30-message-long string of correspondence.


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