With all of the nifty tools for communication, why is it so hard?

Communication is what drives everything. Communication can make life more fun to live and difficult situations easier to solve. With all of the technology today, why is communication so hard? I don’t think it’s because of a lack of effort. Is it like John Lennon said, “Everyone’s talking so no one is listening?”

A Generational Thing?

I don’t think so. My kids probably got cell phones when they were too young. But it solved a lot of issues for our family and made it so that we could communicate. We had rules, no one used their phone during meals and these devices became part of our lives. I’m not complaining, only conveying. Or bragging, either. We had our challenges.

Now, we have a family text that runs all of the time and we stay connected via that simple medium. Still, I wonder sometimes when I call, and someone doesn’t pick-up; what are you doing because I never see you without your phone in your hand. No judgment. Curiosity.

In fact, I loved the story of the city where they are working on installing “Don’t Walk” signs in the crosswalks so people looking down at their phones don’t walk out into traffic! Geez.

The New Communicators?

My friend Nancy Lyons wrote an excellent article about her experience with a poor communicating car repair shop. I like the way Nancy writes and she sums up nicely the opportunity that so many businesses miss today. It’s easy to communicate! All it takes is a little effort and the tried and tested attitude that says, “treat someone the way you want to be treated.”

It’s not hard to call someone to give them an update on the service you are providing, the order you are shipping or the food you are delivering. Or, put another way, keep your promise. And if you can’t, just tell the person for God’s sake. We’re all human, in this world together and things happen. Fess up and stop making excuses. And if you want to write them a letter, do it better with Grammarly.

The good news is that there are some companies, like Amazon, who are taking communication to a new level. They tell me both when my packages ship and they’re delivered. It’s cool. I’ve written before about Hilton’s attempt to communicate that is a good idea if they execute. Knowing Hilton, they’ll get it right soon.

In our business at Sightpath Medical, we sometimes over-communicate with our customers because we’ve learned that if we don’t, things go bad. And when we do have failures, we do a post-mortem and find that better communication always helps.

What About Timing and the Curse of Understanding?

I suffer from a common affiliation affecting teachers, trainers, coaches, marketers, doctors, and consultants – The Curse of Knowledge. I first heard of The Curse in the fantastic book by Chip Heath & Dan Heath, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. I’ve seen many doctors fumble opportunities to help patients with upgraded technology because they fail to speak simply. Add to the that they offer the patient an elective procedure right after telling them they have a cataract and it’s not a stretch to understand why the adoption rate of advanced technology lens implants hangs at around 15% year-after-year.

Nancy touches on this phenomenon in her story, too. It happens all of the time and it is solved by communication. After all, experiences often teach us how amazingly small the world can be.

Finally, like so many things, communication comes down to one’s effort and desire to be of service. Everyone is busy, but no one is ever too busy to give an update or work to understand the reference point of the other person. There are many ways to get your message across today and learning to empathetically communicate is a great skill to have.

Does anyone carry a briefcase anymore?



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