My phone pings, buzzes or vibrates almost constantly.
Work colleagues. Friends, local and around the world. My kids’ school.
When I put it on silent and try to focus on finishing a task I look down to a full screen.
Messages. All of them. I hardly ever get phone calls anymore. Phone calls have become like letters. Quaint.
We’ve become a world of messengers. Facebook Messenger. WhatsApp. WeChat. Blackberry Messenger. Viber. Telegram. Everyone communicating in a fast-paced short-hand marked by abbreviated words and truncated ideas. You know you’re over 40 if you start your email (email?) with a greeting. Punctuation is like a corset. Paragraphs are for people in nursing homes.
Our conversations are now compositions of reactions. Thumbs up. Happy face. “Great.” “Sounds good.” Anything more feels like time wasting.
Workplace Ping Pong
The result – as any working person knows – is a vast quantity of communication and very little connection. Reactions bounced back like ping-pong balls. Gotta be quick! You’re rewarded for your willingness to respond any time of day, any day of the week, and extra bonus points for messages on holidays. You’re rewarded for commenting on ideas, for quick “check-ins,” for copying as many people as you can. You’re rewarded for your ability to ping as many balls as possible to as many people as possible.
The result is fragmentation: of language, ideas, conversations, decisions, relationships. People who are wildly connected and yet fundamentally disconnected. From a business sense the result can be delayed decision making, time wasted, strategic distractions, and short-termism. Who’s got time to actually THINK these days? (How many times have I heard that over the past year?)
Get the Message
So here’s our message for 2018, an antidote to our collective messaging madness, two simple steps towards a practice of creating quality human connections at work:
- Reflect don’t React.
- Talk don’t Type.
Yes every day! At least once a day, start experimenting with an alternative to messaging, a deeper way of communicating, let’s call it a vintage model of “showing up.” And start to see what happens.