Pages and pages of blogs, articles and dissertations are being written about the communication revolution that we are currently experiencing. These people are writing about social media, technology and how languages around the world are changing to compensate for the speed the world is moving, LOL (I still don’t know what that one means, is it ‘lots of love’ or ‘laugh out loud’, either way I am not using it correctly).
Communication is always changing, it never rests. It is not like we grunt at each other anymore as a means of communication like the caveman and if we say we are going to the bathroom we say “I am going to the bathroom” as opposed to “when didst thou see me heave up my leg and make water against a man’s farthingale”. Obviously technology has been critical along the way. The fax had a short life and fax jokes even shorter. We communicate more through smart phones and tablets than we do using PC’s, and the short, sharp text message is quite all right thank you very much, even with its complete disregard for punctuation of any kind (punctuation people, look it up in the dictionary, the dictionary, it’s a book with lots of words in it on the bookshelf, the bookshelf, it’s over….oh don’t bother).
A key difference I have noticed is how small the gap now is between social communication and business communication. I remember my mother used to complain when She would call to check on her interstate son and I would mumble and grunt my way through the call because I was a recruiter and I had spent half of the day on the phone being cheerful, punchy and sharp (well, you know, as sharp as I could be), and the other half interviewing people face to face. Communication was my tool and I relied on it to make my living. I was taught how to use it professionally. We would prepare for a call, think about how we could make the best impression on the person on the other end, client, candidate or colleague.
This week I have finally noticed how difficult it is to get people on the phone for a business call. Today I made three calls in a row to business land lines, two in Australia and one abroad and in none of those cases did a human answer the phone. One advertised land line rang out, can you believe, and the other two went to really bad on hold messages and these were sizeable companies. And then if you do get put through to the person’s landline it is rare that that call will be picked up. Remember the days of ‘no phone rings more than 3 times’…HA! The entire process of calling work phones to do business has gone. We use our mobile phones which allow us to screen calls and that’s the way we like it. Some who remember cold calls may say that it is them that drove us down that path. The current generation probably have no experience receiving cold calls. It is a thing of the past surely. I think I will blame that old whipping boy social media again. Look at the way we communicate socially these days. It is via Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook isn’t it? I am told that teenage girls in the USA don’t even use email anymore. They do all their talking via these tools. A recruitment business of the past was a buzz of communication activity. It was loud, energetic and soooo much fun. These days the recruitment office is dominated by the sound of tapping keys. And I wonder whether other businesses have seen this change? The classic stockbroker went through major transition many years prior when the ‘floor’ was replaced by keyboards and monitors. We like the control don’t we. We like to be able to respond when we want and control our response, (although the speed of current communication has made errors more prevalent). And we like to use that key business ‘rule’ that having an email trail provides you with evidence of the conversation if you need to refer to it later. Sure, that is crucial if you are booking a trade or taking an order but what percentage of email communication would be more effective if done over the phone? Heaps!
The academics say that social media is creating more introverted people; people who prefer to hide behind the world of their Instagram profile rather than stand at a local sports club, music concert or drama group and talk to people face to face. Is this happening in the business world? Has relationship building become more difficult because of the changing way we communicate? How do we do business if we can’t talk to each other?