Communication is Key

Travis Quinnelly bio photo By Travis Quinnelly

I have been struggling with writing about this topic for quite some time. It seems like when I am more personally affected by a lack of communication between myself and friends, family, coworkers, etc. I get more and more frustrated. I think what bothers me most is that I’m guilty of this too but when it happens to me, I don’t like it.

The Problem

The problem sounds fairly easy and simple, but actually I think it’s quite difficult to explain. When someone gives you a specific time or a block of time that they will be calling, chances are that you’re waiting for that call. It’s not so much that you have nothing better to do during that time, but that time could have been used for more productive things. That time becomes the “wasted” past, and there is no way to get it back.

I think it comes down to verbal communication etiquette, or what I will call “V-com etiquette”. I don’t think I even have to explain this, it’s something easy if you take a few moments and think about it. It’s as easy as googling “verbal communication etiquette” and reading a few pages.

I have noticed in my own personal sphere of influence that this tends to occur more in gen-Y’ers than other generations. Why is this? Have we become so reliant on technology for reminders that we don’t even remember personal verbal obligations or time frames? Are we so mindless that we adopt the “;you should’ve reminded me” attitude as to shift blame away from ourselves for forgetting? What does this say about how we feel about our friends, family, etc.? Are we just too busy?

The Reflection

Of course I hate to admit it, but I do it to friends and family, although when it’s done to me I get frustrated with them quickly. Is this fair, oh hell no, but it’s honest.

For me, it’s less about you having the answer I’m looking for or information I’d like to discuss and more about simple, common courtesy. I don’t think I’m petitioning for something that my sphere of influence cannot give me. I take people at their word probably to a fault. And I think that’s why it bothers me when I do this to other people. I think about that, and feel that when I don’t come through for someone, or reply, call back, etc. when asked to do so; I am damaging our relationship unintentionally by giving the recipient reason to doubt me and my word. And personally, I don’t want to live with that anymore.

The Solution

Easy to write down, hard to implement; but I am attempting to do this, and am challenging everyone with whom I converse at least on a weekly basis, to do the same.

  • Write notes to yourself, for yourself, maybe even on yourself (This is especially important when you tell someone “I’ll call you right back”)
  • Field calls quickly and get to the point as soon as possible
  • Indicate to caller or “communication starter” that you are busy and may or may not be able to return the communication in a timely manner. This is the epitome of common courtesy.
  • Return voice mails as soon as you hear them so that you don’t forget to call them or what their voice mail was about.
  • Excuse yourself when making or accepting cellphone calls in the presence of others