Friday, January 13, 2006

lesson: phone >> email

Back in the late 70s when I was first finding my way around a DEC PDP 11 I discovered that I could

Through college it wasn't all that useful a skill, since I didn't have access to word processing tools and I hated to reach for that stupid correction cartridge in my electric typewriter. But then we got a Macintosh lab at school. . .and I was off to the races.

Flash forward to 2006, and I love email. Maybe because it appeals to the ADHD part of me that likes new things showing up and the satisfaction it gives me to reply to them. I read and write a lot of email. Sometimes hundreds a day.

But today, I learned - to my horror - that email is no substitute for picking up the phone and calling someone.

Pride is a horrible thing, I guess. I was so convinced that I was God's Gift to Communicators, that of course whatever I wrote would be read and instantly understood. Nope.

The irony is that I enjoy doing voice-overs and entertaining so very much, but when it comes to doing business, I lost track of the power of the voice.

So. For all of you who live with your Crackberry or Treo grafted to your hand, consider the following:
  1. When the level of discourse in an email takes a turn for the worse, don't hit the "Reply All" button - pick up the phone and call someone.
  2. If given the opportunity to choose between email and face-to-face, choose face-to-face.
  3. If someone adds their boss on the cc: line for a reply, add yours too, then realize that you've got an audience that doesn't want to see you embarass yourself. So be careful about what you write, then take it to the phone.
It's a sad fact about our modern age that we are empowered with the ability to make ourselves heard more than even before, but what we really need is to listen - and hear. For a guy like myself who can honestly be accused of enjoying the sound of his own voice, it's a hard lesson.

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