Recently, we celebrated the start of a new year. Many of the resolutions I saw were pretty standard: people wanted to lose weight, quit smoking, get more sleep. However, one resolution stood out to me as something unique. A tweet stated the person intended to write and send at least two handwritten messages every month.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that resolution. Now, to be totally upfront, my grandfather has difficulty hearing. It’s been a long time since we were able to easily communicate on the phone. As a result, for years I’ve been in the habit of sending him a few letters a month, though never quite as many as I intend.
That last phrase sums up how I feel about almost all “real life” communications I have: never quite as many as I intend. Like many others, I’m busy. “Busy” is a word we all use to describe ourselves now. What this really means is: I didn’t have time to get to you.
I’ve begun to strongly feel that it’s wrong to expect people to keep up with me through social media alone. While social media is a great supplement to personal communication, it should not be the only way I speak with my sister. I’ve been going out of my way to reach out to friends one-on-one. Even if it’s a quick text, a short call or a private message on Facebook, I’m talking to THEM and asking about THEM. It’s not perfect but change sometimes requires baby steps. Maybe I’ll throw some handwritten notes in there, too.
Adding to this feeling of needing to get back to more personalized conversations, Ken at Inkling Media wrote about businesses missing opportunities for engagement by not taking things to a more personal form of communication when necessary. This rings true to something my husband and I have recently noticed in our personal lives: we go back more often to restaurants where we like the staff. That’s because they are taking our simple business transaction and making it personal. This extends to customer service in all businesses, even those without a brick and mortar location. When calling a customer service number, getting a person to talk to rather than an automated system almost always makes me feel warmer towards the company (the exception, of course, being when the person is a jerk). Even when I’m being given bad news, I’d rather hear it from a person who can commiserate with me than a computer who cannot understand me.
So this year, I’m going to go out of my way to be a better communicator, in both my personal and business lives. I believe that good communication, on or off social media, will continue to create bonds that last longer. When my friends, family members and even customers can understand what I’m going to do and why I’m going to do it, it makes it easier for us to move forward on the same page.
That’s the thing about communication: it’s not business, it’s personal.
*Photo credit Toms