Started thinking about the different communications channels we all use, and how well they really reach people? And not only that; how well they really achieve the end goal of facilitating good communication and actually getting a meaningful exchange going between people?
I have most of my communication channels listed here in the contact section:
Today I was away from email for most of the day, just a normal 8 hour work day. Meanwhile: 100 unread emails keep piling up. I also use about 11 different email accounts that all come to the same reader.
The point being: email is pretty much destroyed as a communication tool by overuse and spam. People email each other carelessly. They email too long texts that are not summarized. They abuse all sorts of mailing lists. They also email half-finished thoughts and raw mindflow that's painful to read through waiting for the actual point or call to action to appear somewhere in there. They don't consider who really needs to receive that message in the first place. They don't consider is it going to be a meaningful exchange between the sender and receiver - they just fire away something half-baked. Also one common challenge is emailing people something that asks too much of them. Too much attention, too much time, too much consideration. Like emailing them an entire book as an attachment and asking the receiver to read it and summarize it.
People also abuse the expectations and time frames of email communication: emailing each other something and expecting an immediate reaction as the reply - almost as if they had just talked with the person over the phone. Cannot do that with email. It's asymmetric communication and you should treat and expect it as such. It helps significantly if the email is short, summarized, very clear and has an indication of when a reply is expected. Without this clarity and focus emails are a massive negative time sink that just end up frustrating you and wasting everybody's time.
How are the other channels working then?
The phone: often busy with actual work and no time to answer it. I don't have a voice mail service, because I hate using one and it would just be unfair to other people who would try leaving messages there. So; doesn't work too well at all.
SMS then: works a lot better. The receiver is in control of when to read it. And the messages are never too long.
Skype: never online. When I am, it sort of works OK.
Google chat: same thing as Skype
Facebook chat: I have disabled this. Way too much spam and chatter of the interrupting kind.
Facebook messages: don't quite work, slow to reply. Reason: too much spam. (Same as email)
LinkedIN messages: don't quite work, slow to reply. Reason: too much spam again.
Private message in Twitter: works extremely well! Can only be 140 characters; so it's laser sharp and never too long. Don't get that many of them, so it's easy and fast to reply. There's very little spam in Twitter, which is great.
Perhaps somebody should create an email service that can only send and receive emails of up to 200 characters. That could make it bearable and usable. Or would it?
How do you relate to your communication channels? Which one functions the best? Which ones don't work?