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Email, instant messaging and social media have all become popular collaboration tools in recent years. However, the question remains - are these platforms more effective than traditional voice-to-voice telephone communication?
In 1967, Dr. Albert Mehrabian published a study titled "Inference of Attitudes from Nonverbal Communication in Two Channels", in which he broke down the components of effective communication.
Dr Mehrabian claimed that there were three different aspects to any effective form of communication. Most important was body language, accounting for 55 per cent of communication effectiveness. Second was voice tone, with 38 per cent, while the actual spoken words used accounted for just 7 per cent.
Obviously this is not a hard and fast rule. There are many platforms in which a message can still be delivered relatively accurately even when visual body language or voice tone is absent.
However, what these results do indicate is that while face-to-face meetings may still be the most effective form of business collaboration, teleconferencing - which offers the ability to communicate voice tone as well as spoken words - is a close second.
On the other hand, communication via tools such as email, in which tone of voice is absent, can result in mixed messages and misunderstandings.
A study conducted by Charles Naquin, Terri Kurtzberg and Liuba Belkin in 2008 and published in the journal Social Justice Research has argued that individuals who interact via email are both less likely to cooperate and more likely to feel justified in their non-cooperation than those who engage in face-to-face communication.
Furthermore, a 2005 study conducted by the same three researchers determined that, across three empirical studies, email users were found to be more likely to offer negative appraisals of coworkers when utilising email, even when compared to other paper-form communication methods.
Science and technology have changed the way we communicate in countless ways. However, research has proven that there is still an important place for voice-to-voice communication, and there likely will be for many years to come.
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