Technology was supposed to improve our communications—giving us more channels through which to communicate.
Instead, mobile devices are creating a world of NON-communicators.
We of the Boomer generation use emails to communicate and in doing so, make a conscientious effort to write a meaning-filled email. This might not be as true as it once was, but for argument’s sake, stay with me.
When I send a thoughtfully composed email, I’m disappointed when those who are used to texting on mobile devices don’t even bother reading beyond the first three lines. They’ve adopted a Tweet-like mentality of 140 characters or less. What’s happening?
If I wanted to chirp like a bird, I’d tweet more messages on Twitter.
But I don’t.
And I am growing annoyed with two-word replies, “Yeah, thanks,” after spending 10 to 15 minutes composing an email.
Did you even bother reading the WHOLE email?
Your lack of attention is wasting my time. And being older, I have less time (to live) than you do.
It’s a waste of time to follow-up when someone lets the ball drop. Now, instead of one round trip with two emails…
For one thing, these shortcuts affect people’s reputations. No matter where you are and what you’re doing, who you are and how you work sends a message to someone in a position to benefit you. We can’t turn on and off our reputations based on where we are and what we’re doing. We humans crave consistency and dependability–where reputations flourish.
In January of this year, I added this line to my email signature block: I appreciate YOU for carefully reading my email. Some took it personally. Most don’t even read down that far. And many still have not deleted that annoying line at the end: Sent from my iPhone, Samsung Galaxy Note, or whatever.
As an entrepreneur, I ask myself, would I hire this person? In the above case, my answer is an emphatic, NO. If a person can’t focus on the details now, what will happen as we do business together?
Imagine hiring someone like this to be an in-home caregiver.
You finally give in and accept your friend’s invitation to take a respite. Good move. You’ve planned for weeks to take a one-day respite—an outing with friends. You’ve let the caregiver know well in advance.
The time comes for the caregiver to arrive. You’re a bit nervous, checking to be sure you’ve taken care of the details. Where is she? You’re supposed to meet your friends. Thirty minutes pass. You call. No answer. You leave a message. No return call. Days later, the caregiver calls asking if you need help. REALLY? You’re livid and demand an explanation. Awww, sorry ’bout that, I didn’t feel good and decided to stay home. WHAT? Didn’t I tell you long ago about my planned outing? We just talked yesterday and you confirmed.
This limited attention span ripples to other areas.
A recent telephone exchange I had with a representative of a print magazine illustrates what I mean. I’ve been receiving this monthly print magazine for several years as a subscriber. They’ve called a couple times to confirm my contact information. Why? It’s unnecessary. This call arrived at a busy time, so I needed to keep it short.
WARNING: It gets ugly because any semblance of a genuine thoughtful conversation between two human beings is absent.
[Phone rings. I answer.] Brenda here.
Yes, may I speak to Brenda, please?
I just answered, Brenda here.
Oh, I’m sorry.
This is [inaudible name] from [company.]
We receive your magazine by mail and by email.
Good, I’m calling to confirm your contact information.
Well, as I just said, we receive your magazine and email already, so that means the contact information is correct.
Well, we need to confirm it for our audit.
What? Seriously, let’s use common sense here… I just confirmed that I’m receiving your print magazine and emails.
Thank YOU for your time. Goodbye. [I hung up.]
Think about this. If you’re in business and not getting enough referrals, it may be because you’re letting go of the details. Don’t let the idea of being mobile fool you into thinking fragmented communication is okay. Listen carefully, read entire emails, respond appropriately, and in a timely manner.
Who knows? You may find your business prospects improving!
And don’t get me started about how hard it is to hear people who use wireless phones!