Why Sharing in Person Is Better Than Emails When Asking for Help

Two hands reaching in silhouette.

The power of a face to face conversation can help resolve conflicts, foster harmonious relationships and work environments. (Image: Anyaberkut via Dreamstime)

Nowadays, people have become more comfortable interacting with others through technological and online routes than in person. From a school-going child to working professionals in their 40s, most people find the convenience and speed of digital communication modes more desirable than the old-school way of sharing in person. Often, people juggling with time in their careers and personal lives find it easy to send an email on the move, rather than visiting a person and asking him or her for help. However, a new study indicates that asking for help in person is more effective than using online and digital interaction.

The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. When asking someone for a favor or assistance in getting a job done, few people think of using the best method. They may feel it does not matter if they use email, phone or chat applications for asking for help. However, the study results reveal that speaking with others in person fetches better results in such instances. 

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The warmth of sharing in person is not found in email- or chat-based interactions.
The warmth of sharing in person is not found in email- or chat-based interactions. (Image: Kevin Phillips via publicdomainpictures.net)

The power of communicating in person

In the first study, the candidates were given five communication channel choices — audio messaging, video messaging, audio calling, video calling, and old-school sharing in person. They were asked to interact with five friends through this channel for a task. The task was proofreading a write-up. It was found that sharing in person was way more effective than the other modes. However, it was found that the candidates mostly underestimated the power of communicating in person.

The second study carried out was like the first one, but in it, the participants compared email requests with video and audio calls. Compared to emails, video and audio calls fetched better results. There are reasons behind face to face and video call-based interactions fetching better results for task accomplishment from others. Logically, it is easy to say no to someone over email or chat applications, citing many reasons. However, denying a person over a video stream or an interaction in person can be somewhat awkward for most people. The warmth of sharing in person is not there in email- or chat-based interactions. 

Woman typing on a laptop on a table.
Using social media, chat and email can be tedious when compared with a normal conversation. (Image: via Pxfuel)

Trust and acknowledging humanness

There are other advantages of sharing in person versus using digital communication modes. It is more applicable when you are asking a stranger or someone who does not know you well. An email or chat message from a stranger may make some recipients uncomfortable. They may think it is a new type of fraud. In fact, hackers and fraudsters often use email and mobile messaging services to target less tech-savvy users. So a trust issue crops up in their minds. When you are approached by a stranger in person, the trust factor is still there, but it seems a better option than clicking a link or email from someone you do not know. 

There is another reason that sharing in person works better than email or chat messages. Despite the proliferation of web and digital technologies, a large section of the population is still not comfortable using these technologies. While mobile users are everywhere, you will still find a section in developing nations not using smartphones. So people who are still not comfortable in using social media platforms and the latest gadgets may find using chat services or emailing somewhat tedious. They may respond better when sharing in person for a favor. 

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