In this day of instant communication I find myself resorting more and more to the “Old School” ways of communication. This past week in both my professional and personal lives, I had issues of trying to get to the core of certain matters, due to our seemingly quick adaptation of electronic communication. Let me explain….
For years, my staff has heard this from me a number of times – E mails are good for documentation and opening a conversation but not for clarity when a discussion is in need or when ideas are being sorted out. This example reminds me of a college professor I once had who would put her entire class notes on a long chalk board (Yes, I said chalk) and give us all 15 minutes to copy it down. Then she would feverishly erase it and then write down the next set of notes for about 15 minutes, and then give us another 15 to capture those. Then she would simply say “Test on Monday” and the class would end. We repeated this process way too many times. The result? We were taking tests but never exploring the topics. As Woodie Flowers, the Pappalardo Professor of Engineering at MIT and a great inspiration to me, would phrase this as “Training” and not “Educating”.
Text messages elevate e mail communication to the top of a mountain in comparison. Texts, to me, are “Running late 5 minutes see you soon” or on a personal level if you are not in physical communication with someone you can say “Have a great day” but again, not an opportunity for clarity on a particular issue or topic. In my personal life, it’s harder for me to be a good parent when my kids are more interested in text messaging when we are apart instead of a simple call for clarification and checking in.
Last night, all phones & computers aside, my kids and I really talked, evoking their inner thoughts and challenging them to clarify their communication by simply asking open ended questions after their first day of school. I also try to do this daily in my professional life. The result? “ACTUAL” communication vs. “Virtual” communication.
Last week I was lucky to attend a great event sponsored by Shepard Exposition Services, called the “Sandbox”
Shepard does an amazing job assembling Industry Professionals that not only present great industry topics, but encourage conversation about them. One such conversation was regarding social media. I could quickly tell that a lot of “Old Schooler’s” in the room didn’t necessarily utilize nor were ready to embrace the various forms of social media. When that was brought up, the presenter and people in the class clarified that social media was a way to attract people to your event or ideas, but that face to face is still the best form of communication.
With all of the new forms of VIRTUAL communication that society is rapidly embracing, I hope that people and particularly the next generation won’t forget that the old form of communication, that is ACTUAL communication, won’t be completely left by the wayside.
Oh No! I sound like my parents now!