We’re all about the face-to-face conversation, but with the rise of remote teams, communicating via IM becomes an increasingly important skill. Github’s Zach Holman shares why he actually prefers that workplace communication happen via instant messaging:

Text is explicit. By forcing communication through a textual medium, you’re forcing people to better formulate their ideas.

Real-time oral communication has drawbacks. In normal, conversational dialog, most of us know the direction we want to take our argument, but it’s difficult to think about what you’re going to say until a few moments before you say it. This leads to filler words (like um and uh), excess rambling, and lack of clarity in speech. 

If you’ve ever wanted to scream at someone get to the damn point already, you know this pain.

Text is the opposite.

Read the rest of his case here.

PreviouslyNever Stop Talking: How Small Teams Stay Great When They Grow

  • Jamil Buie

    I try to respect individual opinions but this is one statement that I can’t support. Defaulting to text while you have phones Skype FaceTime Google Hangout and a host of other similar tools is lazy. Using filler words is an issue…seriously? How about you learn how to share your thoughts without the pauses or Coach your team to breath and then deliver. If there is an issue with the delivery or a long winded speaker try this “Excuse me, what’s your point?”

    I’m sure Mr. Holman is successful with his method however if we were all to adopt a text 1st mentality our exchanges would slow and clarity of communication may also degrade due to people rushing rebuttals. Maybe I am biased toward using my voice because I work for an ad agency and I’ve been a DJ/ on-air host. But I just can’t see a message or a movement having the same impact as an impassioned delivery by an orator.

    • xaigo

      I work as a freelance designer and I really prefer text over voice.:) When I started out I was sure that it’s always better to call a person than to send e-mails but, after a few dozen conversations with people who really can’t get their message across (like 2 hrs spent on discussing a problem with a manager who gets sidetracked by every little thing and the “Excuse me, what’s your point?” doesn’t work, because he’s losing his point every 2 minutes:)) I changed my mind.

      Besides when you’re discussing a lot of minor details it’s easy to lose something during a conversation, but with e-mails and messenger history you can always go back and check it (it’s really crucial when people make mistakes or don’t remember the details of the agreements).
      But maybe my opinion is biased too, because I’m quite introverted and I prefer to keep conversations brief. But I always enjoy discussing projects face-to-face with effective people who get straight to the point. So it all depends, I suppose.:)

      • Jamil Buie

        I see where you are coming from. I am more of an extrovert and I think people, when comfortable, share more and more deeply live than via text. The trick is getting your team ( I’ve led teams of developers and designers) to be comfortable with you and each other.

        I will admit not having to recap a meeting is nice but you’ll still need to pull out the necessary action items and load them in a Basecamp or Jive for folks to execute.

        As my soap box begins to crack, I worry about human communication becoming the second and the default becoming hurried staccato messages with no tone. I think your last line sums it up well though. “Effective people who get straight to the point” regardless of the medium used, win.

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