If we are totally honest, we all constantly struggle in the area of communication. It is unavoidable. We are in always contact with family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers and strangers.
There are many different options to communicate. Written notes, phone, text, email, Tweets, and Facebook messages immediately come to mind.
In this constant sharing of information with others, I have noticed that often you will send an email, text or phone call and never hear back from the recipient. If you do get a response, it could easily take a week or more.
Why is this?
I think it comes down to three things: generational differences, information overload and laziness.
Some generations simply do not like email. Email was forced upon them. One day their boss came in and said you have to use this new type of mail. Email is seen as work, not as way of contacting friends. If you want to get a hold of them, you have to call them at home, usually on a landline.
Many individuals have a very short attention span and get easily distracted. This is primarily due to information overload. Typically there is also no management system in place for communication other than the email inbox.
Let’s look at how this applies to the use of smart phones. If the email or text recipient has a smart phone, they probably will read the message at some point. I believe that the intent is to reply but then the user forgets as they are distracted by Twitter, Facebook or a shiny passing object. When the recipient looks down at the device a few minutes later, they have more messages. To make things even more complicated, the original message was already viewed. Without a system in place, it is no surprise there is a breakdown in communication with the smartphone user.
Lastly, I think many people are just flat out lazy. I would define laziness as reading an email and replying back to about half of the questions. Skipping a phone call and only to let the voice mail inbox continue to overflow with unheard messages is lazy. It definitely takes effort to follow up but it is definitely worth it.
I know we can do better. I am certain of it. Now that we know the cause for the problems, in my next post I will give some solutions.