It goes without saying that many of us have been struggling through the pandemic. We miss our favorite activities and our loved ones. Some miss going to restaurants and travelling. Some miss income, having lost jobs that may not return. And even worse than all of these, some miss loved ones whose lives were taken by COVID. While we are struggling, regardless of the specific struggle and how we are coping, communication becomes even more important than during normal times. And I am afraid that some people are not paying attention to the need to communicate, and to do so in a timely manner. Are we really too busy? Or are we so focused on our own stuff that we fail to reach out and touch someone? Maybe, just maybe, we have forgotten some of how and when we should communicate. If so, consider the following a brief primer. These are not intended to be all inclusive, but they are a good starting point.
More people are texting than calling, and that presents some challenges. When we speak with someone on the phone, we have our voice to help us deliver the message. A text is the written word, without the benefit of our tone of voice to soften our message. On the phone, we can hear the response, and gauge what ours should be. Not so with texting.
Texting is here to stay, regardless of its complications. We can communicate better by texting remembering a few simple texting “rules.” First, be careful when texting that you send the text to the right person! Some reading this can give an example of when this rule was not followed, and the problems that were created.
Texting is sometimes done so quickly that autocorrect “corrections” change the meaning of the intended message. If we do not review the text before it is sent, we can be very embarrassed and have to take more time to get out of the mess we created by speed and our lack of attention to detail.
Group texts present a different kind of problem. They should be used to send information to more than one person, saving time for the sender. When responding to a group text, we should be careful and assure that our response should go to all, and if not, send a separate text to whomever it applies to.
Usually all on a group text should reply, if for no other reason than to let the sender know you received it. Yes, even if you have the info already! To not “weigh in,” especially if the info is important, can be considered uncaring. Are we really too busy to reply?
Timeliness is important in all communication, and especially so with texts. Most people send texts to get info quickly to other people and expect a timely response. Some people do not have their phone tied to them like some others, and their time is important also. But it takes little time to check our texts several times a day, so we do not miss important information, and can reply in a timely manner. If we are not willing to do so, we should let those close to us know, and perhaps even tell them how best to get important info to us.
What about emails? Emails are also the written word, and share the same challenges mentioned about texting, other than they do not have the same expectation of a quick response. But they should receive a timely reply. The standard for a timely reply to an email is twenty-four hours, whenever possible, and earlier than that if the subject warrants.
When communicating in writing, it is important which words are used. Our words should be clear, yet kind. We should use direct or indirect language intentionally. Our use of qualifiers (words or phrases used to either soften or change our message in other ways) should be intentional. The desired or expected action from us should be clear.
Some of us still communicate by phone, at least occasionally, and at least, my generation! There are a few phone etiquette rules that can make our interaction with others pleasant.
A friend of mine who is very bothered by this would want me to mention that we should not be doing other things while talking on the phone. This includes cleaning out the dishwasher (my favorite!) and making noise that is magnified on the other end.
At the risk of my daughter thinking this comment is intended for her (it really isn’t,) when we miss a call from someone close, we should return the call, and in a reasonable time frame, preferably the same day. Especially when a message is left. This does not include what we know may be a “pocket call.”
Granted, there are robocalls that annoy all of us. The car warranty people are the biggest offenders. There are robocall blockers that are effective, yet they also block legitimate calls, such as those from doctors’ offices. I have found that if a call is legitimate, a message is left, and the call can be returned.
Kindness is a thread that should be throughout all communication. How do we show kindness through communication? First by considering the style and desires of the other person. Do they like brief and to-the-point information, or a lot of detail? We should communicate with others using the Platinum Rule. (See the blog on this in the March 3, 2015 post on www.fralixgroup.com.)
We should take the time to be friendly, being careful to not waste the time of others. We are being friendly when we make a comment such as “I hope that you are having a good week,” or “Thank you for your assistance.”
I will show kindness by stopping this primer, and letting readers decide how to use the information. While I do the same thing. As with much of my writings, this is about “me too.”