That two-word phrase can go a long way towards smoothing human communication and maintaining relationships. Yet in our hyper-charged, tech-centric world, that phrase often gets lost.
In fact, I don’t see a lot of civility in my workaday life and I don’t believe I’m alone. Ironically, in this always on, never-out-of-touch world, it’s frequently much more difficult to reach people. Once upon a time people might hide behind a secretary’s clipped words to avoid answering a call. But at least you were talking with a human being. Now there’s email and voicemail.
How often have you called someone, left a response-requested message, only to have your phone call remain unreturned? If you’re like me, I’m sure it’s more times than you’d care to admit. Then what happens? Do you resort to email to try to reach the person? I know I’ve gone so far as to call, then email to try to arrange a call only to run up against the email wall. The person just doesn’t want to talk on the phone. Or doesn’t want to take the time to truly engage. You might say, what’s wrong with email? The fact is it doesn’t allow for any give or take, nuance, subtlety, or shades of gray. It’s also lousy at creative problem solving. And it’s one step removed from human life.
Then there’s that old word, “thank you.” How often do people say “thank you” in person or over the phone rather than a quick email “thank you.” I know I’m more than guilty of it.
How refreshing it is, however, when the reverse happens. A person not only calls you back but spends time listening to you and the dialogue is moved forward. Or a person stops in his or her busy day just to say “thank you.”
Kind of sad isn’t it, that we can differentiate ourselves and improve our personal brand these days by picking up the phone — or holey moly seeing someone in person.
What are your experiences regarding civility and email?