Here are 5 scenarios where a phone call does the job best.
1. When You Need Immediate Response
The problem with text or e-mail is you never know when someone will get back to you. These days when someone sees your name on the ringing phone, they know you are making an extra effort to speak to them. Of course, if they are truly busy, in a meeting, sleeping, or hiding from you, the caller ID will tip them off and you go to voicemail which you can forward to email and then reply as soon as you can.
2. When You Don't Want a Written Record Due to Sensitivity
You never know who will see an e-mail or a text. True, phone calls can be recorded...but not without prior notification. Unless you are absolutely comfortable with your message getting into anyone's hands, best to use the phone for conversations that require discretion.
3. When the Emotional Tone is Ambiguous
Sometimes a smiley face is not enough to convey real emotion. Emoticons help broadly frame emotional context, but when people's feelings are at stake it's best to let them hear exactly where you are coming from.
4. When There is Consistent Confusion
Most people don't like to write long e-mails and most don't like to read them. So when there are lots of details that create confusion, phone calls work efficiently to bring clarity. First of all, you can speak about 150 words per minute, and most people don't type that fast. Second, questions can be answered in context so you don't end up with an endless trail of back and forth question and answers.
5. When There is Very Important News
Good or bad, if there is significance to information, the receiver needs to understand the importance beyond a double exclamation point. Most likely they will have immediate questions and you should be ready to provide context to prevent unwanted conclusions.