Monday, June 08, 2009

Tethered to the Telephone!

The world is moving so fast now that people who insist on communicating by telephone are not only obviously anachronistic but at times downright annoying.

I don’t mean the type of communication so sensitive it requires nuance in voice and clarification through a rapid exchange of follow up questions and answers. I mean people who call and leave a message to call back, maybe even telling you what they need.

Maybe from the message they left, you can email the answer to them. But some still call back and leave a voice mail to call them back. You call back and track them down, only to learn that essentially they had nothing else to say but pleasantries or a thank you, things easily done in reply to the email.

I feel badly in a way for these folks. They can’t hide behind age, some of the worst offenders are just 35+…and besides my Mom is 80, legally blind and proficient in email. Some of the most efficient email communicators are in their late 50’s or ‘60’s.

I fear these folks who insist on staying in the world of telephone and voice mail will go the way of the fax machine and eventually only have one another to call.

I don’t think their failure to adapt to new technologies is about age or about being able to interpret email communication. I think it has to do more with being stuck in a rut…or maybe working at an extremely slow pace. Then again, maybe they don’t have a clue how much the world has changed and continues to change or how maddeningly slow telephones can be.

Or maybe they are just being stubborn. Like one of my Grandfathers who insisted the only way to properly rake hay was with a team of draft horses. I can still remember my Grandfather on that horse drawn rake with his head and Stetson tipped back while my Father followed with a tractor-pulled baler at a snail’s pace three feet behind.

But that had more to do with nostalgia because he didn’t insist my Father use a horse drawn baler.

Old school sales people are also really losing out now. It is maddening, for instance, to the majority of meeting planners now when every destination community or worse—every hotel in the world—insists on a telephone call or a face to face meeting. Few have the time for that anymore, and insisting on it is a good way not to make the list at all. And don’t even get me started on the folks who sell advertising…

But maybe these telephone-only people live in a world that isn’t even aware that communication mediums have changed and people have switched gears. Or maybe they think email is only one way…you receive it, then use the phone to return?

Don’t know which is worse…being oblivious or just very, very slow to adapt. But either way, the world is passing them by.

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