Monday, April 03, 2006

How Do You Say This?

There are so many ways to communicate these days that it’s often difficult to tell which ones should be used for what. The big four are text messaging, e-mail, telephones, and snail mail (there’s also blogging, electronic message boards, chat rooms, etc. But I’ll just talk about individual-to-individual communication here). Snail mail is increasingly archaic, used only for very formal communication, like official job offers, wedding announcements, and the like. E-mail is taking over much of what snail mail used to cover, including newsletters and, of course, keeping up with friends. Phone conversations are the closest you get to face-to-face communication without actually being there. Texting is somewhat like passing someone in the hall and striking up a conversation – you see someone online, you say “hey, what’s up?” if you feel like talking, or move on with what you were doing if you don’t.

But the lines can be fuzzy sometimes. When I was looking for work, it wasn’t always clear whether or not I should e-mail or snail mail my thank you letters. Sometimes, the kind of information I had determined the route I took – if I had e-mails for everyone I talked to, I e-mailed them thank-yous. If I had a mailing address, I snailed it. There’s a similar blur between texting and e-mail. If you’re on e-mail all the time, it can work almost as fast as texting. And if you stay logged in forever and a day to your text messaging service (guilty), then a message someone sends you may not be received for hours if you are away from your computer.

All things considered, I mainly prefer face-to-face communication. I’m bad enough at reading people when I can see and hear them. It’s even harder when I can’t see and/or hear them. Given that, I prefer certain modes of communication for certain things. Casual conversation or questions, I prefer the phone or texting (which would be why I call my coworkers more often than I e-mail them, even though Phone and I have a strained relationship at best). Anything that requires negotiation (like where/when you want to meet someone), I prefer the phone or texting. Anything that requires me to remember something (like directions or scheduled events) must be sent by e-mail. I remember things better when I read them, especially if I can go back and look at it later.

But it’s the things I don’t do often at all that trip me up the most. What’s the protocol here? Where’s my script? What am I supposed to say, and how? The new ways of communicating just seem to add to the confusion over when and how to say something. So often, I just give up and say nothing. When the words matter, they’re so much harder to say – no matter the mode of communication.


Anonymous John said...

Perhaps we need a "Robert's Rules of Order" for communications of all sorts. I think we should start with body language - I always get that wrong!

4/04/2006 7:32 AM  
Blogger SpakKadi said...

Where did I put that "Human Communication Protocol" specification?

4/05/2006 12:41 AM  
Anonymous diana said...

ummm...I prefer not to talk on the phone.

4/05/2006 2:23 AM  

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