Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One Ringy Dingy (Emphasis on the "Dingy")

With so much talk among marketers of the new technologies associated with social media, I'd like to take a moment to discuss an old technology: the telephone. I hate using it. I do use it, but I don't like it. My wife and I were recently discussing modes of communication, and while she is definitely a phone person I am definitely an e-communicator. Now I'm wondering why that is.

The phone has some obvious advantages over electronic communication. There's immediacy; talking with a person directly gives you information far more quickly than sending an e-mail and waiting for a response. Plus there is less communication interference in telephony; the spoken word can relay communication nuances that are lost in the written word alone, even in a live-chat environment will all the emoticons we could wish for.

Not to be outdone, however, electronic communication gives you some time to put your thoughts together just so, before initiating communication. It also gives you a virtual paper trail of communication, with time and date stamps, which makes it easier to track the flow of communication between and among parties.

But more importantly, electronic communication also allows us to communicate more easily on our terms. We send a message out into the ether at our convenience and check that task off our list of things to do. Time is not an issue, because we can send e-mails or tweets any time of the day or night. And we can ostensibly reply or otherwise pick up the conversation at our leisure, again taking time to mull over exactly what it is we want to say to the other person.

I think these are the real reasons I prefer e-mail over the telephone. As more and more demands are made on our attention, I like to be able to cue up my communications in a manner that suits my workflow. Telephone can be interruptive; a call might come at any time, convenient or not. When I get into a groove I hate being interrupted. I must confess to thinking like that when I pick up the phone to place a call. Because I hate to be interrupted, I presume that others feel the same way, and I wonder if my call is only going to annoy the person on the other end of the line. Neurotic, I know (again--emphasis on the "Dingy). But the truth for me nonetheless.

I must add that I'm not the same way when it comes to face-to-face communication. I actually will go out of my way at work to walk to another person's office before picking up the phone to call them. As I think about it, I realize that this is largely because I can scope out the other person first before initiating communication. Do they look busy? Are they in a meeting? Will I be interrupting something important? Face-to-face interaction allows me to mitigate those apprehensions that come with using the phone. And it has the added benefit of fostering a good relationship with whomever I am talking to.

In spite of this predilection of mine for electronic communication, I continue to work on using the telephone, because I must. In our increasingly global community where time is ever more at a premium, it's important to get information as quickly as possible. The value of the immediacy offered by the telephone far outweighs the benefits of electronic communication for normal give and take. And it does help to foster interpersonal relationships in a way that electronic communication cannot.

What are your thoughts? Please feel free to leave your comment at your convenience. I'll reply when I'm good and ready... ;-)

No comments:

Post a Comment