Did I show you the pictures of the snack I just ate? Oh, and the latest images of our cats?
No? Oh, sorry, let’s just send them to you. You will find them hilarious. And the snack was really awesome and the blogger who posted it, inspiring.
When I started working in Germany, back in the early 1980s, there was a thing called telex. For those who do not know this Stone Age machine, imagine two typewriters (a sort of manual computer) connected by a telephone line. One person types a message, and it instantly appears, in writing, at the receiver’s telex machine. But the cost was high, especially when sending them to foreign countries. So, we pre-typed the messages, which were hole-punched on a narrow yellow ribbon. After 6 pm, when the cost of phoning was cheaper, we sent a whole day’s worth of messages.
I saw my first fax machine in the mid-1980s when I moved to London. I had to ask how to use it, which drew a puzzled look from my British colleagues. Soon I was saying, I’ll just fax that to you”. But it still took a certain amount of time to “compose the letter” which was then faxed, by somebody who worked at the “switchboard”. And you had to check that your document had a small circular watermark at the top to confirm that it had “gone through ok”.
My introduction to the Internet was around 1995. I went to a friend’s place, and he showed it to me. I was fascinated, but at that time you didn’t have much choice. You could only go to AOL or Compuserve. You had a little box, called a “modem”, which spluttered into life when you dialled into a “node”. My closest was 30 km away in Frankfurt (a long-distance call), and if you used the internet after 9 pm, it was significantly cheaper. I chose to surf the internet rather than go to Sweden for my holiday (I was single, so no problems there.) The cost was about the same.
But with it came Email and I still remember when I sent an email to somebody, I received an instant reply. I was dumbstruck, thinking that there was a human on the other side, waiting for my email so that he or she could send the answer. Now I know it was an “auto response”. I doubt the word existed before 1992.
While we marvel at the beauty of connecting some people from halfway around the world to have a conversation in English, we still need instructions on how to communicate. Igor’s LinkedIn profile makes for some fascinating reading. I quote from one of his posts:
The world would be a much better place if everyone understood the concept of “asynchronous communication” when using WhatsApp.
Communication is a science and in an increasingly chaotic world, dominating it means having more productivity and mental health.
What on earth is he talking about?
Maybe the problem lies elsewhere. Maybe it should still cost money to send messages. After all, the more expensive energy becomes, the less we use or waste.
If we went back to the “good old days” when sending messages cost an arm and a leg and you only sent something to someone when it was considered important, would the quality of our communication improve?
If you “scroll” through the messages you sent in the last 24 hours and add a cost to each message, how many would you have sent? Would you have sent “that particular message” then?
But let’s be realistic. Paying to send a WhatsApp or an Email isn’t going to happen. Anyway, it would be bad for business because it would reduce advertising spending, which would impact the global marketing fraternity. It would make people like Igor jobless. The answer lies in education. But how do you teach an entire generation to send “asynchronous” communication when they probably wouldn’t understand the word (is there an emoji for it?) and just don’t know any different?
What do you think?
As part of his training programme, I am handing the reigns over to Igor.
We will do this in two parts. This Tuesday, Igor has one central question for you to think about. When it comes to communication, in your own language, he would like to know what your challenges are. What have you experienced or heard when communicating with companies, either as a customer or as a business partner?
Then, in the second part, either the following Tuesday or later, he will generously share some of his knowledge based on your comments.
What should make this even more interesting is that we are a heterogeneous group of people.
And what is more important, the more you contribute, the better the outcome.
See you on Tuesday, if you wish, at 5 pm UTC, 7 pm CET, 8 pm in Turkey, 1 pm in Western Brazil and 2 pm in Eastern Brazil.