Friday, 11 January 2008

Is talking going out of fashion?

When I first started out in business 10 years ago, I used the telephone a lot (nearly all day!) - and I sent out letters with stamps on them. Today I hardly ever send out letters - in fact I even sent out Ecards at Christmas, something I couldn't have imagined a few years ago.

Quite often I find myself typing a reply to an email, and then stopping because it's getting rather long and involved. At that point I usually decide to pick up the phone and speak to the person concerned.

I've noticed that, if I send an email asking a slightly awkward question, like "Will you be attending my teleclass?", I get an email reply when the answer is negative. I have to admit that I have been known to do the same!

It got me thinking that it is easy, today, to avoid speaking to people if we don't want to. But, while it can be useful to hide behind the computer screen (or a mobile phone text message) if we don't fancy a 'confrontation', it is a bit wimpish too!

All those years ago, I had to prepare what I wanted to say on the phone, how I was going to say it - and be ready to deal with what the other person might say in return. Although I didn't realise it at the time, these were very strong skills to learn and they have come in useful many times!

Emails can come across as abrupt and thoughtless (there's no tonality to soften the message) and relationships can be irretrievably damaged - just by pressing 'send'.

Some messages are still better delivered in person (by talking at least). Our electronic methods of communication just don't have that human touch.

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