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The Shortest Distance Between Two Points …

August 29, 2010
Mary Jane Copps

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I had a first this week – for the first time when I contacted someone I didn’t know and had never spoken to before, they responded to my voice mail message with an email message.

I was caught off guard for about 30 seconds, my mind reviewing their research path – how they would have seen my company name on call display, gone online and found my website, then my email address and then sent the message.

The message was certainly brief and to the point; it didn’t even include a salutation. It simply said “What can I do for you?” and included a detailed email signature.

I acknowledged the resourcefulness of this approach but in less than a minute picked up the phone, dialed the direct number included in the signature and, because I happened to be in my email when the message arrived, got the person on the phone immediately.

The ensuing detailed conversation took about 10 to 15 minutes less than my crafting a response to her email … and it resulted not only in some important one-on-one time with a prospective customer but also with her agreement to meet early in September. Email correspondence may never have evolved to the meeting stage and it certainly would have put it much farther out in the future.

This ties in with thoughts I’ve been having the last while about the word “overwhelmed”. Etymology sources indicate the word has been around since the early 14th century yet in the past year it has been appearing before me in conversation, in emails, on radio and television. Suddenly, here in the 21st century, the word has become trendy. People use it, myself included, to describe how busy they are, how much they have going on in their lives, and to indicate that they are having trouble keeping up with everything.

My belief is (and I’m sharing it with you in the hopes that you’ll respond, share your experience, add to the debate that’s going on in my head) email sometimes adds more time to our “to dos” not less. And that, in some cases, if we picked up the phone and spoke to each other (which I do realize isn’t trendy) we could get more done in less time and even, in some cases, make decisions days before an email discussion would produce the same result.

Don’t misunderstand – I’m not hating on email. I use it everyday with great results. But sometimes it lengthens the debate, whether it is about where I’ll meet someone for dinner or if the answer is “yes” to a proposal. I’m thinking that picking up the telephone might just offer a solution for a small portion of what overwhelms us.

What do you think?

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