Talk to Me
Aug 1, 2003 12:00 PM, Mark Johnson
I'm not much of a game player. My son regularly tries to get me to play video games with him. But I have some sort of mental block that prevents me from remembering which button is supposed to correspond to a particular command or motion. Consequently, by inaction or ineffective motion of my designated player, I lose most of the time. Occasionally, I'll tackle a crossword puzzle, but generally, games are just not my scene. Nor do I like to play games with my computer, intentional or otherwise.
The current wave of PDAs and cell phones allows for sending and receiving of e-mail text messages, but the restrictive nature of the keyboards (or lack thereof entirely) makes it difficult to send a message of any depth or detail. Hence, the majority of messages sent from a PDA are abbreviated and usually in code, like a personalized license plate. R U OK? No, I'm not. C U 2 nite. Not if I'm forced to play these guessing games. While those are fairly obvious examples, sometimes it just takes more brainpower than I'm willing to put forth to figure out what the message sender is trying to say. The trend of abbreviated communication extends to regular e-mails, as well, like forwarding the last comment in a thread or some other text information with an “FYI” or similarly obtuse statement and expecting me to understand completely what was being discussed. Are they serious, or was that a sarcastic statement? What did they want me to do with this, or why did they want me to know? Do they agree or disagree? I don't particularly like guessing games, but I'm forced to play one each time I get an e-mail like this. And don't get me started on people who send an e-mail to ask a simple question when they're at the desk or in the cubicle right next to you. Talk to me.
What's wrong with the telephone? I use one, generally to call the sender of the e-mail to figure out what he or she meant. Don't get me wrong — e-mail is a great tool. I rely on it on a daily basis, but the efficiency of the method should not adversely affect the effectiveness of communication. It's not efficient if I have to work harder just to understand what you mean. The end result may be that you sent the information quicker, but it took me longer to decipher it, so we've still invested the same amount of time overall, with some consternation thrown in.
Talk to me. I can hear nuances in speech with a voice. I can detect sarcasm or seriousness or ask for clarification right away if I don't understand. It allows me to connect with whomever I'm speaking with more effectively. And I can certainly talk faster than I can type. “But I e-mailed him, and he didn't respond!” Although I do have a telephone that is with me most of the time, I do not have a computer that accompanies me everywhere I go. E-mail and telephones should be used as tools in conjunction with each other, not to the exclusion of one or the other.
On another topic, the September issue marks the 20th anniversary of Sound and Video Contractor magazine. We'll unveil a new look — check out a sneak peek of the new logo to the left — and there will be a few other special things as we celebrate two decades as the premier voice for systems integrators.