By Ashley Francis, Contributor and Owner, TURN Studio
In a world today where there are more ways to communicate than ever before, one of our biggest issues as a society is communication. I have spent a lot of time venting about this in my past career as a sales consultant, however, now that I have ventured out as an entrepreneur and started TURN, I realize that we lack communication in every type of relationship, on a much deeper and serious level. Let’s explore.
First off, it might be necessary that we define communication. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. Personal rapport.” Over the last 9 months of developing my own company, I have learned that people must have simply forgot this ever so simple definition…that people have either become so lazy that they can’t exchange or perhaps people have too many options on how to communicate so they get overwhelmed and give up!
Let’s dumb it down: smart phones have text messaging, emailing, direct messaging, and messenger, to name a few. Throw in the laptop and you double the above choices! I’m a little hesitant to mention phone calls because today’s society fears actual conversation…don’t worry, you are not the only one silencing calls.
So where am I going with this? My hope is that you have already had a moment of shaking your head in agreeance. If not, then you must be an extreme introvert who owns your own company that needs no one else but yourself to operate and you must work from home. If you shook your head in agreeance, look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself how many excuses have you have made as to why you have lacked in communication? I will help here: I’m too busy. I forgot to reply. I have kids!! I was in a meeting and then I got busy. Let me insert a motivational line I recently read that hit me hard: “it is not that you are too busy, it is that it is not a priority.”
Let’s first discuss why communication is so important in a professional setting. Every single one of us relies on other people to function, every single day. I personally need so many different people operating at full potential to start TURN, my Indoor Cycling and Strength Studio. From a full detailed marketing plan, an architectural design plan, a budgeting plan, to a simple “yes or no” to a question. Communication is the most important role in starting a company. When I need an answer, regardless of it’s the one I want to hear, I want an answer. I’m sure you can relate to this; simply think about the time you asked an employee to cover a shift for you and crickets…oh the anxiety, right?!
Think about the time you sent an email to your boss, your employee, your coworker, or to your vendor and then from the time you pressed send to the time you finally got a reply you had stirred up so many (negative) thoughts because “you just need a simple response, what in the world is taking the recipient so dang long?!” When someone takes the time out of their busy schedule to write to you, no … you’re not the only busy person, simply reply! Even if it you write “I got your email, I will reply within 24 hours” or “I will get back to you after this conference”! The amount of time it takes to reply, maybe 11 seconds depending on how fat your fingers are, is worth it. You will rise above your colleagues, you will gain more trust from your boss, and you will earn more business from your customers. (read that sentence again but in your King Arthur voice)
Communication is so lost in our world today that the simple examples of showing that you can reply to an email, answer a text, reply to a DM on Instagram or to a message on Facebook, will make you shine like the little star that you are within your company! For the record, just in the last few minutes of me venting, I have replied to 3 emails and 4 text messages. Instant gratification! Not to mention, the most important part of it all, I make that person feel important which then leads to them feeling inclined to do business with me. Let me conclude this segment from a business owner’s perspective, the ones who cannot communicate in a timely matter or the ones that I am constantly having to resend emails to or ask, “did you get my last text?” (because you know, technology these days might lose a text) will be and should be replaced. If you are too busy and if you have reached your max on excuses, then I, the owner of a startup company, am too busy to employ you.
Go on, take a moment now to answer your emails and to reply to your texts. Hell, get crazy and call back the missed calls!
Now let’s entertain myself and discuss communication on a personal level. A quick roll of the eyes and shake of the head because this is the most challenging and intense issue between two people, yet it is SO simple! I’ll start by asking you this: at any given moment during your day, how far away is your phone from your hand? 99.9% of you answered, “in my hand, my pocket, or extremely close to my body at all times.” Even when you go to the restroom, your phone goes with you. Slightly gross but I get it, we all are glued to our phones. The point is, if we are so good at having our phones always on us, then why are we so bad at communicating with people? This is not to ignore the deeper, philosophical reasonings behind why people respond to some things over another, but its simply a time for you to stop and to think about all the times you were “too busy and forgot” to respect another human being enough to answer or to reply. I laugh a little just writing that because Apple clearly has the same pet peeve as me and prove it by making it as simple as double clicking on a text message and boom, you can thumbs up, thumbs down, love, laugh, hype, and even question a text. How simple is that?! Takes less than a second and then you will have proven me wrong, communication is alive!
What crawls under my skin the most is when someone has the audacity to make up some bs excuse as to the why I was not an important enough priority over however long the time was between my initial communication and their reply. Because when we finally are together or are effectively communicating, the person is on their damn phone! Literally, right in front of me, the person is texting, emailing, on social media, or whatever it is on their phone that is more important than the communication taking place with me! I’m guilty of it, you are guilty of it, and unfortunately, us as a society has come to accept it. And yet we wonder why divorce rates consistently rise and why self-worth is constantly being compromised!
Think about how many arguments, whether with your loved one or a friend, could have been avoided if we were better communicators. If instead of ignoring that text or okay, forgetting about that text, you would have replied. Perhaps you would have avoided the hour-long argument. Just one 30 second reply, to avoid an hour-long argument. Time is money, people! Perhaps a simple reply would not make the friend of yours feel insignificant in your life. Have you ever wondered why he didn’t return the communication or why she didn’t just tell you she had other plans and can’t hang out with you? Hurts a bit, right?
My next thought might come across as cold, but then maybe that means it is true for you. We will see. Think about someone you have lost. Whether it was expected or a sudden, traumatic death. Did you find yourself wishing you had more time with that person? We hear stories all the time of the regrets we have when someone passes away. Well then why the hell do we not live each day like it’s whoever it is in our lives’ last day and communicate better?!
Point of my rant is simple: if someone or something is important to you and of value to you, communicate. Be the boss that makes the time to answer your staff. Be the rep that your customer can always depend on for an answer. Be the coworker that your associates can rely on for guidance. Be the employee that your boss can always trust. Be the spouse that your loved one expects to be there. Be the friend that you simply wish your friend was to you. Everyone is busy, everyone is rushing to the next appointment or to carpool. Your excuses, my friend, should be left unread.
At the end of the day, if we learn to communicate, given all our means to do so today, our relationships will be healthier, our partnerships will be stronger, and our sales will be greater. More importantly, you will limit your regrets when someone is no longer here to communicate.