OK, it’s fair to say that I like to talk. I’ve talked for a living all my life. Talking to listeners on the radio earlier in my career. Verbally extolling the virtues of a product or service through advertising voiceover work. Or chatting through a creative brief with one of our clients. In the case of the latter - I’ve always found that doing it face to face, or at the very least - on the phone, will usually achieve the most desirable outcome over the written word.
And I say that as both a creative radio writer and as a published author. So, what on earth would lead me to such a seemingly contrary conclusion?
Allow me to clarify. The particular nature of the discussion I’m extolling the virtues of, is the one you and I both need to have in our businesses. Dozens, if not hundreds of times a day.
The type of interaction where you need to get to the crux of a matter, address a point, obtain a consensus and then move on to the next stage.
What you don’t desire during that process, is a protracted series of potentially confusing written statements or questions, all blatantly open to misinterpretation, fed to you intermittently over a period of hours, or in some cases – days or even weeks. When a simple conversation would undoubtedly have led both parties to a satisfactory conclusion within minutes, or possibly seconds.
A friend of mine was recently desperate to confirm the finishing time of a meeting they were attending, in order that they could book a return train ticket. “Just ring them and see what time they think it’ll wrap up”, I’d helpfully suggested. “Oh I’ll message them tomorrow” was the response.
By the time they’d eventually received a reply – four days later, it wasn’t the one they were hoping for and by this time, the rail ticket prices had shot up too. Ouch! But the delay in receiving the information and the increase in cost were both entirely avoidable. If my friend had just picked up the phone at the outset.
It’s crazy isn’t it? This seemingly new-found reluctance to actually speak to anyone. Can you imagine the potentially catastrophic consequences all those years ago, if America and Russia had attempted to resolve the Cuban missile crisis - by e-mail?
Or how about David Frost and Richard Nixon embroiled in their famous confrontation. Not eye to eye, but via a string of Facebook comments?
And just how entertaining would Chris Moyles’ morning radio show be, if it was texted to you, one link at a time?
Don’t get me wrong, e-mail, text and social are all part of life today and all are useful in varying degrees. But when you and I want to do business… we really need to TALK.