Think about last time you asked someone for a favour.
Not just, “Can you pass the salt”, but rather, “Can I leave work early on Friday? Or “Can I be considered for the next promotion?” Did you arrange a time to ask in person, or did you send a message through text or e-mail?
At it turns out, the form of communication matters, and studies show that people who asked for favours face-to-face are more likely to get a favorable response then one made through a digital channel.
And if you are using a digital channel, a synchronous talk (via phone or videochat) is more effective than unsynchronous, text-based.
So think of it this way, the more personal you make your communication method, the more likely you are to get the outcome you want.
Most people significantly underestimate the power of asking a favour in person.
In a study by Roghanizad and Bohns (2021), they found that participants significantly underestimated the relative advantage of asking face-to-face compared to any other digital medium.
But let’s face it: having face-to-face discussions can put us in a state of vulnerability.
I mean, why ask tough questions in person when we can sit down at our computer and safely script out the request?
Well, because we’re humans. And humans aren’t perfect (or scripted). And part of being emotionally intelligent in the workplace is demonstrating strong communication skills and behaviours.
Asking a favour in person has certain advantages.
➡️First, it allows for immediate feedback and clarification. If you ask for a question via e-mail you may not receive an immediate answer which can lead to anxiety, confusion, and misunderstanding.
➡️In-person communication also allows for non-verbal cues such as body language and tone of voice, which can better help you understand the response that you receive. You can ask for the favor in a more nuanced approach.
➡️If the request is urgent, it doesn’t allow time for the person to say “no”.
➡️Asking a hard question in person demonstrates courage in a willingness to engage in open communication.
➡️Finally, it speaks to your ability to have “tough conversations”, which is a skillset that is becoming more and more important as our worlds become increasingly digital.
In general, it is always good to consider the importance of the request and the level of urgency before deciding whether to ask in person, video chat, e-mail, or text.