Calling For Manners

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First I left a voice mail, then an email a few days later, and then another voice mail. And so it went for three weeks while one of my major (and, dare I say, favorite) clients, failed to respond to an increasingly urgent request to connect. Did I mention that she actually needed to have contact with me?

We’d previously danced this dance and, upon finally reaching her, I’d said, “Hi! It’s your favorite stalker.” We shared a long laugh and she’d thanked me for my persistent follow up, while apologizing for her poor performance in the same area. I thought we came to an understanding about my need to communicate more efficiently (after all, if she didn’t have time to get back to me once, what made her think that I had time to initiate contact five times?) Obviously we didn’t. And since, bottom line, she’s the client, I wasn’t in a position to push too hard on the accountability button (although, admittedly I pressed well beyond her comfort zone).

So I’ve been pondering – what the heck is going on with our business etiquette these days? Or is that an oxymoron? In all fairness to my client, she’s not alone. I, for one, have difficulty responding daily to the people I want to hear from, let alone managing all the unsolicited correspondence. Daily, I hear people complain about unanswered voice mails, spam and unopened letters. Obviously, good solid communication is at a record low, despite the fact that the sale of communication devices is at a record high.

Yes, our world has become so over-technologized, so saturated with information, that our very senses are overloaded and are short-circuiting. As a result we, by necessity, have had to learn to tune out a certain percentage of incoming raw data just so that we don’t blow a fuse. It would be virtually impossible for us to absorb, integrate and respond to even a fraction of the incoming messages.

And yes, while this technology connects us to one another, while it makes the world shrink to a fraction of its former size, it has also become a convenient excuse for us to not directly relate to one another. This disconnection, this disengagement, this communication aloofness is keeping me up at night. So what do we do about it? Because, frankly, auto responder is just not doing the trick……

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