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The effectiveness of face-to-face requests

December 2, 2021

In the workplace, when needing colleagues’ help or favor, do you simply call them up, or do you schedule a time to get together in person? What about over video call? Over the phone? Or email? 

In one of the studies led by social psychologist Vanessa Bohns to investigate social influence and compliance, she has examined how accurate people’s intuitions are about the effectiveness of asking for help through various communication channels.

And the result is that people are much more likely to agree to help requests made in-person than those made via text-based media, but that help-seekers underestimate the relative advantage of asking for help face-to-face.

Participants assumed requesting via email would be equally as effective as making a request in person. They expected the differences in the effectiveness of seeking help through various communication channels to be small, or nonexistent. 

However, when participants actually made requests, the differences were quite large. Asking for help in person was approximately 34 times more effective.

“It remains unknown what help-seekers intuitions about the effectiveness of richer media channels incorporating audio and video features might be, or how these intuitions would compare to the actual effectiveness of face-to-face or email versus rich media requests”, researchers say. But they already know that richer media channels do offer an advantage over text-based channels. 

The findings suggest that people may miss out on receiving needed help by asking for it in suboptimal ways.


Source: Should I Ask Over Zoom, Phone, or In-Person?