Talk to Me

It’s worse than Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day.

As a writer, I pride myself on being able to communicate with extreme clarity. My secret (and it’s no secret) is that I put myself in the place of the reader. Is this clear? Is there a better way of saying it? Can I simplify the message?

But more and more, the businesses I do business with communicate only antique telephonethrough email. A commercial printer, media channel, and an insurance company. It’s email or nothing.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the principle of email. It’s fast, efficient communication.

However, the emails I receive are so cryptic and incomplete that I need to pick up the phone to call the business for clarification. On those rare occasions when it can speak to a person to ask a question, that helps. But most of the time, I’m forced to leave my message or question in voicemail.

The vendor’s response comes to me through email – another cryptic and incomplete answer. Ergo, an endless Groundhog Day loop.

I think the people who send those cryptic, incomplete, and ambiguous emails don’t realize they’re doing it. They understand it. So, they think we should, too.

Writing this post reminded me of a college professor I had. He pounded the notion into our brains that “meanings in people.” In other words, he harped on the notion that communication doesn’t occur in the sender. It occurs completely, in the receiver – the person receiving the message.

For example, I can speak in perfect Japanese. From my standpoint, it’s perfect communication. But if you don’t understand Japanese, there’s no communication.

Most people who send the cryptic emails that I complain about so vehemently don’t consider their message might not be clear or that it might open the door to questions.

But I have a simple solution: Pick up the phone and talk to someone – your customers, your vendors, your friends.

By the way, I do use email and text messaging. But if it’s truly important – and if I suspect the person I want to communicate with could have any questions or require additional clarification – I call. It’s easier to do one all-inclusive call than to bounce around an endless stream of obtuse email messages.


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