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rant against verbal communication

So I sent this guy at work an email, and five minutes later my phone rings, and he wants to talk all about the email. I had to be very patient. Then I turn to my cubemate and say, "Don't people understand that the whole reason I send an email is to avoid talking?"

Then I was accused of being a "gen-y-er", aka a "kid these days", who can't handle people because I've spent too many hours of my life in front of a screen.

I protest. For one thing since the beginning of time there have been nerds who couldn't handle people, but now that we've got email and text messaging we can finally do some real good in society. right?

Times I want to talk to people:
1) I want to say something really offensive that should be never be stored as evidence to be brought up in a court of law.
2) There are lots of people involved in the conversation and we can just have it all at once.

That's it. Generally speaking I've found that talking is too easy for people, words just come out unfiltered, you can say the same damn thing ten times before anyone notices that you're being repetitive. Email is great because you're forced to be concise. If you yammer on forever, everyone will realize that you're a bad communicator. You do more cost-benefit analysis on your words. If I don't like what you're saying, I can stop reading. There are so many wonderful things about it!

I might be a tiny bit antisocial in the general population, but not compared to other engineers. They set the bar low. I could be their prom queen. So I don't think this is totally an introvert thing, or a generational thing. It's a "really, seriously, 'not talking' is a better way to do it" thing.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 21st, 2012 05:03 pm (UTC)
I agree, of course. Honestly, I can't imagine life without email communication. If I had to have all the conversations on the phone that I now have via email, I'd shoot myself. And I also feel like the more people involved, the more important it is to communicate via email, because the group meetings can just be so intense.

The only time I think talking in person is required is your #1, when something needs to be arranged ASAP, and also when there's a complicated concept that really needs to be explained verbally, possibly with diagrams.
Jan. 21st, 2012 05:04 pm (UTC)
I'd add c) it's a complex thing that would take more than five or six emails to sort out, when it could probably be resolved in a short conversation faster.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 02:17 am (UTC)

d) when it's time sensitive and you're not sure when the person will check their email or phone.
Jan. 21st, 2012 06:57 pm (UTC)
I have had phone calls at work where I have literally pulled up the email I sent to the person, and I read what I wrote back to them over the phone. And then they say: "Oh, that makes sense!" Even though the content and information was exactly the same.
I think some people are just bad at reading, or not patient enough to read through to the end of an email.
Jan. 21st, 2012 09:43 pm (UTC)
I'm with you. Sometimes, I'm cranky and it's not your fault, but if I can write you an email then you don't have to deal with me either, so it's win/win.

Also, as an introvert. I only have so much people energy. If I had to have every single conversation in person I might end up in a corner some days.

And then there is the efficiency aspect. I send an email when I have a moment. You respond when you have a moment. Time zones don't matter. There is no "email tag".

I phone when:

a)I need an immediate response
b)I don't want a paper trail
c)It's easier to explain in person/requires less exchanges
d)To follow up to an email to ensure someone understands, feels connected with (this is client management more than anything)
e)My emails are being ignored
Jan. 22nd, 2012 01:02 am (UTC)
Yes, also that. Introvert and people-energy.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 02:34 pm (UTC)
This. I'm not an introvert at all and still follow your email rules. Also, now that I'm not at a large email-centric company, I do a lot more face to face conversations. :)
Jan. 21st, 2012 11:06 pm (UTC)
Once I know the person is getting/reading my emails I like that method also since it keeps a record of what was said.

One method I have found to keep people from calling me like that person did is to be an irritating conversationalist. This can be easily done by putting........long pauses in what you're saying (explained by wanting to be concise) and also repeating whatever the other person just said to you to make sure you're on the same page before you make your point......with plenty of pauses, after awhile they stop calling.
Jan. 21st, 2012 11:35 pm (UTC)
My experience, my entire career, has been that nothing ever happens as a result of e-mail and the only way to get someone to actually do something is to call them. So I quickly got used to it and it doesn't bother me anymore. You must have more-competent cow-orkers than I ever have. ;)
Jan. 22nd, 2012 06:16 pm (UTC)
this. I'd love to use email for everything, but half the people I email never reply and I end up chasing them up by phone anyway.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 12:51 am (UTC)
I have the opposite problem. My office isn't very large, and when someone sends me an IM or calls me, I'm like, "Really? You could just talk slightly louder and I'd be able to hear you from here."

But I agree with your point about excessive communication. Especially since it was in writing so that it would be CLEAR and you wouldn't have to talk about it a second time.
Jan. 23rd, 2012 01:08 am (UTC)
it's good when they call you like that, because from the bosses viewpoint you both look busy.
Jan. 23rd, 2012 01:16 am (UTC)
Not when the boss passes by both of us in our small office and realizes we're talking to each other.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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