The Changing Art of Communication

We got several Toronto-based young professionals of varying backgrounds together for a discussion on modern day forms of communication, their ramifications and what YPs found was the most appropriate form given the scenario. With the relatively new nature of things like text messages, email and instant messaging, basic social conventions are still being worked out, but our YPs in general shared many of the same views.

General Issues
Issues can easily arise when people have different expectations about the modes of communication in sending and receiving information. This is especially important for the busy, urban young professional in dealing with people of different professional fields or different generations. Many YPs, for example, regard e-mail as a quick and informal form of communication to send a quick greeting or ask a “quick question.” Someone who does more hands on work may not view emails the same in terms of time sensitivity.

Older generations may view e-mail as more convenient way to transmit a formal letter, and may be something that they check only once a day or less. They may consider an informal text message or email rude or unprofessional. For this reason, all YPs agree that, it is of utmost importance to consider your audience when choosing modes of communication.

Professional Implications of Modern Day Communications Technology
Communications technology has made people instantly accessible and, with that, people expect and require quick exchanges of information and answers to their questions. This has placed more pressure on the workforce in terms of client expectations and access.

In the past, young professionals would go on vacations and “out of office replies” meant that we were, in fact, inaccessible. These days, even on a beach seemingly on the other side of the world, we turn in our loungers to see other young professionals typing away on their devices while sipping daiquiris and basking in the sun. It also means we need to be strategic in deciding the appropriate means to address clients, superiors and coworkers. 

Social Implications of Modern Day Communications Technology
Way back in the old days, when people wanted to get in touch with someone, they would send a letter. The letter was special and a yearly Christmas letter may be the only contact you had with a beloved friend or loved one. Today, YPs feel we take human interaction for granted, with even a phone call becoming a lost art. These days, the only hindrances to instant global communication are time differences.

Personal Implications of Modern Day Communications Technology
Our changing communication changes the way we date. Single people are practically glued to their smart phones in the hope that a text may come in, or to see if their crush has updated his or her bbm status. It has also made us bolder when it comes to dating, if we do say so ourselves. It takes a lot less guts to send a witty text message than to pick up the phone and (yikes!) actually call the hottie you met last week.

As we have said before, technology has also afforded the opportunity for YPs to be increasingly strategic, selective and last minute in dating and date selection.

We have suggested the proper mode of communication for a number of scenarios:



– Using email prevents interrupting the recipient or getting into a frustrating game of ‘phone tag’.

– Allows senders to think things through before communicating information.

– Both writer and reader can consider the ideas at his or her own pace.


– High risk for misinterpretation

– Email lasts forever

– Email is not always private

When to use email:
An email is best sent when the information you want to share is not time-sensitive. They are not always the most efficient for questions that require more than a yes/no answer or simple explanation. When discussing work-related issues like raises or politics, an email is probably best used to schedule a formal face-to-face meeting to do so. Be weary of sending email when upset – if you would hesitate to say something to someone’s face, do not write it in an e-mail.

Text Message


Quick and efficient means for short updates, usually in advance of another form of interaction.

– Typically affords a quicker response than email.

– Allows for greater multi-tasking than a phone call.


– Due to the informal nature of text messages, some people may be offended by the types of information you convey via text as opposed to other forms of communication.

Like any form of written communication, text messages may be misconstrued.

A text message leaves a paper trail and is not always private. 

When to text:
In terms business, young professionals found text messages too informal and invasive than emails or phone calls, especially when interacting with clients. A text message should not be too long and should include to-the-point information, usually among friends. BlackBerry Messenger seems to add that additional degree of accessibility and intimacy and YPs felt it should be reserved for personal friends and family, not business. In general, YPs agreed that it’s never a good idea to have bosses on bbm.

Phone call


Control the costs associated with face-to-face meetings but still provide the benefit of the give-and-take exchanges of back and forth verbal dialogue, which allows for greater information exchange and quicker answers to questions than email.

More personal than written communication and, as a result, increasingly more special


In business, a phone call can break the recipient’s train of thought or interrupt their work or meetings.

If communicating small and to-the-point pieces of information, they are not always necessary and could waste time if you get stuck on small talk or tangents.

When to call: The phone call is great for wishing happy birthday or expressing sympathy when a face-to-face visit is not possible. As we have recently discovered, they may also be more effective in having complicated or information-heavy exchanges.



Allow the ability to read people’s body language and tone, plus see their reactions to certain pieces of information.

When we are emotional about an issue, speaking about it can be better than writing so your thoughts are not captured in an email which may put you in an unfavourable position later on.

Best form of communication to establish trust and build relationships.


Face-to-face interaction can be time consuming, costly and difficult to orchestrate, especially for the busy young professional.

When to meet:
Breakups are best done in person, as are conversations with superiors concerning workplace issues, raises and politics.

Hand-written note
Although increasingly uncommon, we had to mention the old-fashioned hand-written note. According to YPS, nothing offers a more personal touch than a hand-written note. The only drawbacks can be if someone cannot read the writing or if it is a piece of business communication that really should be professionally typed.  Hand written notes are well received and much appreciated when expressing sympathy or gratitude.