2 Million e-mails per second – most of which will be read on the toilet.

Posted by on February 22, 2010 in Blog | 0 comments

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Unbelievably, I watched as a guy at gym this morning was conducting his #1 toilet business while speaking on his mobile phone. I was astounded at his dexterity, but I was even more flummoxed by the fact that the call couldn’t wait on the call of nature. I would have (as I suspect most other people would have) let the phone ring, picked up the voice mail, and returned the call. OK, maybe this guy is frugal and didn’t want to call back.

But it kind of got me wondering about communication….

I know, from the research done by my friend, Global speaker on Change, Michael Jackson (see how easily communication can get confused), that we are making more phone calls per day around the world today than we did in the YEAR of 1980, and that we send 2 million e-mails every second! In addition, people are sending 8 billion text messages today!

But with all this communication happening, the messages seem to get “lost” more often. For one, who has the time to adequately take in and respond to all this media? Out of the approximately 300 e-mails I receive pr day, at least 30% is spam, or completely arbitrary. A text message from my massage therapist reminding me of my appointment at 15H00 is completely unnecessary. I know I have a busy schedule – I know that she thinks she’s being cute and delivering customer service, but can’t she just leave me alone?! She’s kind of screwing herself – if I have an appointment and don’t pitch, or cancel on the day, she bills me anyway. So what has she lost?

And why should my car service company text me three days after my vehicle service wanting to know if everything was OK? If it wasn’t, guess what, they’d be the first to know – right after I’ve told everyone who follows me on Facebook and Twitter!

And there’s another thing. As much as I love social media, where do we draw the line? Just today I had someone whom I follow on Twitter brag that they’ve just posted their 7000th tweet. Does that mean that there have been 7000 insights? 7000 sales pitches? 7000 unnecessary messages shared? 7000 things that needed to be done? The thing is, this guy actually posts some really cool stuff. But a lot of other people just post garbage. I’ll say it again, I have no interest whatsoever in your farm, your island, your Mafia gang or your horoscope.

At one company I consult to, I’ve found that there is an unwritten rule which says that no e-mail is complete unless it has been copied to the entire department, the manager and the section head. It means that people at every level of the organisation get e-mails that have very little relevance to them. Further enquiry revealed that this has become necessary to leave a trail of proof that e-mails were sent, that there has been communication, and that people have indeed covered their butts.

So how do you make sure your communication stands out in a world devoid of difference, a world characterised by over communication and clutter?
• Fax – no-one else is doing it anymore and it’s bound to draw attention.
• Only communicate when you have something REAL interesting to say. Remember the boy who cried wolf?
• Get to the point quickly – blogging and micro-blogging are forcing us to do this. Say what you have to say in as few words as possible. If people want to know more, they’ll ask.
• Keep your communication personally relevant. People will only read / absorb what they are truly interested in.
• Ask yourself, What would George W Bush do? Then do the opposite.

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