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I love my Iphone and all the things it can do.  E-mails and text messaging have made it possible for me to stay in touch daily with staff in eight different locations, not to mention with my fellow managers, and other valued contacts at the hospital and in the community.

I have found, however, that this technology is no valid substitute for meaningful dialogue with clear understanding of what was discussed and what actions are needed.  With e-mails, and even more so with text messages, attempts of cleverness or neglect to proof read may leave your client reading between the lines.  Inevitably, this will lead to confusion and, sometimes, hard feelings.  These hard feelings have a tendency to morph in some pretty strange ways you will have little control over.  The results are predictably bad for everyone involved.

In spite of its inconvenience in time, mileage on your car, and schedule strain, I have found it is more than worth all this extra work to schedule a face-to-face meeting.  I would go as far as advocate including a written agenda that both of you approve.  In cases of new customers, customers at risk, contacts that could influence how you perform your job, schedule the face-to face meeting.  Your staff will also appreciate you making the effort to spend time with them versus an e-mail response, or worse, not receiving any response.

When in doubt, arrange the face-to-face and come prepared.  The payoff is a real dialogue that will foster a healthier relationship and mutual respect.