I was working as usual today – answering client questions, brainstorming with colleagues – all the usual stuff. And as usual, I sent a couple of emails asking people if it would be okay for me to call them about some issues we were facing. As I hit “send” on one such email, I thought about how the etiquette behind the way we communicate has changed over the years. There was a time when, in-spite of having access to email, I would not ask a person if it was alright to call them – I would just call. If they were unavailable, I would leave a message and they would call back (or not). These days, calling someone directly feels much more personal, so I feel like I should get permission before doing it. To pick up the phone and call without being given clearance is now simply too presumptuous.
Now before you call me old and crotchety (even though you are probably right), let me state for the record, I am not complaining about our current communication paradigm. I am just waxing philosophically about the state of things. After all, that’s what those of us who were born in the sixties do. Email and text messages are a great way to prioritize and document communication – and they allow us to multitask the things we need to accomplish. There is a lot to be said about talking to people directly, though. I imagine the time spent interpreting electronic messages could possibly be saved if we just talked to each other for a second – but to say that would be to show my age.