I think about communication a lot. I have a B.A. in Communications and worked as a communications strategist for many years, and even though it hasn't been that long since I was a professional communicator, technology is constantly changing the way that we communicate. There are a variety of ways to reach out and each way has its pros and cons. Some people feel that technology is eliminating human interaction and some people feel that because of technology, they are able to more efficiently interact with more people.
I want everyone with whom I work to feel comfortable, so I try to adapt to their communication style, but personally I prefer email. I like email because it is easy to refer back to, it provides a written record of what was said, and I can take my time and respond carefully and strategically. Also, I think part of the reason that I prefer email over the phone is because I get terrible reception in my house, although we did install a cell phone antenna extender in the form of a giant metal pole on our upstairs deck this week. Sorry, neighbors!
When you call someone, they are sometimes not able to answer and an on-going game of phone tag between two busy people is not very productive. Often, issues that may take several days to resolve over the phone could be easily resolved more quickly over email where each person can respond at their convenience. With this in mind, when I get someone’s voicemail, I try to leave messages that further the communication, rather than just asking for a return phone call. If I am calling with a specific question, I ask that question and ask that when the person calls me back, if I am not able to answer, they leave their answer in their voicemail to me.
Although I’ve yet to work with anyone who didn’t have an email address, I have worked with people who I had to call to tell them to check their email. Often, after reading the email, these people will give me a call to discuss, rather than respond to the email and that’s fine, because email does have its downfalls.
It’s virtually impossible to interpret the tone of an email. The writer could have written a sincere message and the reader could interpret it as sarcastic. Also, it the writer is unclear about something or makes an assumption about the level of familiarity of the topic of the reader, there is no opportunity for the reader to ask questions or gain clarity. Plus, it’s much harder to write an email when you’re driving! (That’s a joke! I had to clarify since this is a written communication and you can’t interpret my tone).
And finally, there’s texting. Some people are offended by texting. They find it disrespectful. I am not one of those people. To me, the ultimate disrespect is not paying attention to the people that you are actually in the room with and texting often allows me to give my total attention to the people that I am face to face with. For example, if I am about to go into a meeting with someone, but someone else needs a quick answer to a question, I can shoot them a quick text message, then put my phone away. I don’t have to excuse myself to make a phone call or ignore someone in need of a quick response from me.
Texting is becoming far more common between real estate agents, too. Agents often have to call each other to set up showing appointments and more and more I am seeing agents request that other agents text them, rather than call them.
I was discussing this topic with an English professor friend of mine the other day and he said that many of his college students send him emails that use abbreviated words and emoticons, which are common in texting. Although I think that texting serves a purpose for quick easy communications, I always make sure that my business communications are professional, grammatically correct, and respectful. I would certainly never send an English professor an email with a "smiley" in it.
How do you prefer to communicate? Has technology improved your interactions and relationships or has it made you more removed from other people?
If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Peachtree Corners, feel free to contact me in whatever way you prefer. My website, Corners Realty, even has several different electronic forms you can fill out, depending on the information you need. Or send me an email or give me a call!