The Boomerang Factors: Editing, Muting, and Crossing the Streams
Letters from the Home Office Volume 8
It’s easy to think that because we work with multiple, advanced, high-speed devices that we are also an advanced high-speed device. I’m sure as a species we are evolving, but not as fast as our stuff. As a result we find ourselves in a variety of embarrassing or even more serious predicaments.
Currently there are three devices on my desk. In descending order of use they are; a laptop, my mobile phone and an office phone. For some reason I get extremely flustered when I am using one device and another starts to ring, buzz or vibrate…well, the vibrate doesn’t bother me so much, but I’ll save that for Dr. Freud. Anyway, I only occasionally conduct two conversations at once; and that usually just to defer one of the extra calls. This is also known as common courtesy. There is no way you can give two calls sufficient attention. Plus, remembering which call is muted and which isn’t can get dicey. How many times have you been in a situation where you try to stop somebody from saying something they will regret because they think they are on mute? I know it hasn’t happened to you, but surely you’ve had friends in that kind of spot.
The other challenge with the perception that we are as fast as our devices is that we type as if we are speaking the words. Spelling, punctuation and other helpful rules go out the window. And we assume since we were reciting the words beautifully in our heads while we were typing, they must be all in the right order on the page/screen. Nope. For some people, nothing gives more pleasure than being right; or more precisely, nothing gives them more pleasure than you being wrong. Correcting an innocent typo is a little victory for them, even if the mistake doesn’t change the real intent of your message. What is worse is when the mistake is so egregious that people don’t your point get the have because words order wrong in the you.
To prevent these little things from coming back to hit you from behind when you least expect it, I suggest you limit yourself to what is humanly possible. Have only one conversation, at least semi-carefully paid attention to, at one time. Read your business texts, emails and memoranda out loud before sending. And assume everybody can hear everything you say during business hours.