broadsideblog

Call Me! No, Text Me! No, IM Me…How (If At All) Do We Communicate?

In behavior, business on July 1, 2010 at 12:24 pm
Young passenger pigeon.

Now this is a reliable medium! Image via Wikipedia

I just read a great new book, out in September, by a friend, Daylle Deanna Schwartz, called “Effortless Entrepreneur” that distills the wisdom of two college friends, Nick Friedman and Omar Soliman, who founded College Hunks Hauling Junk.

What struck me most was their management advice — that when you hire and manage people under 25, maybe younger, you have to gently coax them (!) into actually talking face to face to real people, i.e. clients and customers, which also involves (!) looking them in the eye, shaking their hand, listening and showing that you have heard them.

What a concept!

These two business owners learned the hard way they have to consciously and carefully train their young employees how to interact well and courteously face to face and by telephone using their voice with others, who are likely somewhat older and expect what they consider civility.

Sounds really basic to me but apparently not so much because so many young people (love that phrase!) now only communicate through texting. Not speaking by phone (LOL) or even face to face (ROFL.)

Sht Me. Srsly. (Fill in that first word as you see fit.)

Whatever tribal customs work well in high school or college, it must come as a terrible shock when not everyone communicates in the same fashion.

Some of us geezers actually enjoy face to face conversation instead of living attached to a piece of technology. So, entering the workforce, which often shows all the flexibility and willingness to accommodate your very own personal needs as, say, an I-beam, will also mean picking up some new, even uncomfortable social skills as well.

I got stood up last week by someone younger than 25. They did not telephone me, eschewing both cell and land-line. Nor did they email. They said they sent a message on Facebook, (I do not own a Blackberry), but there is none there to be seen. I drove an hour each way to meet this person, ate alone, then drove home, really annoyed.

No phone call? No email? I only found out this person wasn’t dead by emailing (after I made several calls and FB messages.)

The problem with Facebook? If you decide to blow someone off and are chatting away on FB shortly before and after, we know you aren’t bleeding arterially or lying anesthetized on an OR table. In geezerworld, those are the only two reasons I wouldn’t show up, or expect someone else to, possibly without letting the other person know you’re severely ill or injured.

When I asked some people older than 25, they said they’d experienced similar behaviors.

Have you done this? Or experienced this — a total mismatch of communication styles? How (if at all did you resolve it?)

Maybe this works really well for the younger set, but if or when they try to work with or be-friend others even a decade or so older than they, they need to remember that we don’t all communicate using the same tools anymore.

I’m thinking passenger pigeons myself…

  1. Why, in my younger days, we texted each other all the time. It was called Morse Code. My ham radio license required that one demonstrate a proficiency at Morse Code at speeds of better than 20 words per minute. I had to go downtown to the Federal Communications Commission offices to take that test in front of an examiner.

    As shown on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, those old geezers with their Morse Code and their green eye-shades were significantly faster than a couple 20-somethings texting the same message.

    However, the old Geezers were not constantly walking around staring at something in the palm of their hand. Yes, they had portable transceivers, but they didn’t use them to avoid socializing.

    And with a very few notable exceptions, most of them did not attempt to send morse code while driving down the road.

    Aside: I have heard stories of Don Wallace, Call Sign W6AM, having outfitted his car in the 1970s, with a complete ham radio transceiver and a power amplifier running 1000 Watts. This was, and still is, legal for ham radio license holders. He was often heard on the air sending Morse code at speeds of around 25 words per minute from a carefully mounted keyer, while driving across California. So texting while driving isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. One point worth noting is that he didn’t have to take his eyes off the road to do this.

    Take that, you wippersnappers! :-D

  2. Thanks for the history lesson! Fun…

    I now have to shout, loudly, “If you do not look up NOW you are going to walk into me” to the morons who text while they walk. I am not budging for their selfishness.

  3. Coming from a soon to be 20 year old trying to make the last moments of teen-hood the best they can be, I share in your beliefs. The dinner and date is no longer the first step in a relationship. It is now texting each other for about 4 or 5 days and then do that. I refuse. I have a ZERO texting policy, and let me tell you, girls who feel the same are hard to come by. Next year I am going to be an RA, so I need Facebook to keep all my residents in contact, but after that, i’m even going to delete my Facebook (GASP!).

  4. So interesting….Gotta keep some of the mystery or what else (other than the obvious) is a date *for*?

    Facebook is a hoot. I posted on it today around 5:00 pm, forgetting the man I live with reads it all the time, and mentioned a new blouse I bought…He walked in the door and asked about it.

  5. If I want to make a new arrangement with my college-aged babysitters I always text — or I’m not sure if they will get the message. Voicemail is definitely a non-starter.

    Also, I can say as a writing teacher, I can say that texting, IMs, etc., have not been good for improving clarity in complex documents.

  6. I don’t get this aversion to the human voice. It seems sad and mechanical to me; you can’t go anywhere now without seeing kids texting away…electronic pacifiers. Nancy, how are you handling the issue with your kids?

    As for their writing, good luck with that!

  7. I’m a strong introvert. I suspect, at times, there’s some Asperger’s in there somewhere that’s just not high enough to be diagnosed. Given that, I hate the sound of a ringing phone, and I also don’t like people just dropping by my desk unannounced at work. It makes me feel cornered. However, I’d much rather talk to friends, etc in person, seeing as how everytime the phone rings, I have an almost hostile reaction to my silence being interrupted. The occasional text message doesn’t bother me; I can answer that on my own terms without feeling as though I am ignoring someone if I don’t answer the phone or immediately return a call.

    I suppose in the end it boils down to personality type. Those of us with extremes one way or the other will have preferences that the other extreme may find completely foreign and in some cases, distasteful. That being said, I am far from the person you will find in public buried in her phone. I find that extremely rude. No one is that important!

  8. Suzanna, I have the same visceral dislike of the phone ringing — by definition, it’s interrupting my space and time, usually right after I have started writing or eating lunch and do not wish to be interrupted.

    Texting may seem cool and sexy; when you write for a living, not so much!

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