Are you using Slack to communicate everything with your team? Here are four situations where traditional communication methods may be more effective.

The day my team first started using Slack, I immediately felt a pang of relief in my chest — and my inbox. No longer did urgent matters get buried under a sea of spam or simple requests, nor did my schedule instantly fill up with pointless 15-minute meetings. It was a new era of direct, instant communication and I couldn’t have been more excited. 

However, just like all shiny new business tools, there are limitations to how beneficial Slack can be for your business. It was a lesson that I had to learn the hard way: just because it may be more convenient to send your team a Slack message and get the instant gratification of immediate shorthand replies, doesn’t mean that it is the most effective form of communication in all situations.

Not sure when a Slack message won’t suffice? Here are four situations where using Slack or instant messaging is costing your business big time, and how you can use alternative modes of communication to better serve your team.

1. If it’s more than a paragraph, pick up the phone.

In its simplest form, Slack is meant as a time-saver. Instead of wasting time walking to the other side of the office or scheduling time for a brief phone call with your remote team, employees can use the platform to efficiently send-off quick bites of communication.

However, verbal communication is often much faster than typing out all your thoughts (yes, even for those wizards who can type 120 words per minute). When what you are trying to communicate can’t be said in less than three sentences, it’s time to shut down Slack and pick up the phone.

Getting your team in the practice of having short five-minute conversations is a great way to explain more complicated ideas, and transition into more effective communication practices.

2. Always brainstorm face-to-face.

Instant messaging is great for a lot of things — whether you are quickly checking the status of a project, confirming deadlines, or sending funny GIFs to your workplace partner-in-crime. However, when it comes to brainstorming, Slack and instant messages definitely fall short.

Sure, your digital native employees may feel innately comfortable communicating solely through Slack and IM, but brainstorming requires the ability to bounce ideas off others which is something that a fast-scrolling Slack chain just can’t accomplish. When in doubt, opt for an in-person meeting or video conference whenever possible.

3. Make time for in-person criticisms or feedback.

Every leader knows the challenge of giving critical feedback. Even after years of being a business owner, I still catch myself toying with the idea of sending a Slack message or email with my critiques, instead of dealing with the unpleasantness of delivering negative feedback in-person.

Yet, it doesn’t take a business genius to know that this doesn’t benefit anyone. Having critical conversations about performance is crucial to getting to know an employee and having them feel like they are valued and part of the conversation.

Things get misinterpreted in instant messages all the time. Better to suck it up and have the hard conversations face-to-face (or video screen to video screen, for remote employees), than risk something getting lost in translation.

4. Email isn’t dead, especially when working with small teams.

How many times a day do you get pinged with a Slack notification only to realize that it doesn’t have anything to do with you or your work? The benefit of Slack is that you can immediately reach your entire team with the latest and greatest — however, this isn’t always the best use of everyone’s time.

Keep things that aren’t relevant to your whole team off team Slack channels and opt for email instead when discussing larger issues that will require more complex critical thinking. This will save you the hassle of trying to scroll back through quickly sent Slack messages and keeps your team from having to sort through messages that may not be relevant.