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Eureka: Advice for communications in the app age
by Jay Gutman
2017-12-19 13:00:24
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What prompted me to write this article is a charity I sent an email to apply for a volunteer position and they replied with an automated response something along the lines of “if you are writing this email to donate money here's what you should do and if you're writing this email to volunteer here's what you should do.” They're not getting my money. So this article will be advice on communications in an app age, including email, phone, text messages, automated responses etc. in no particular order.

apppp01_400-Don't avoid picking up the phone just because there is one person or two people whose phone calls you don't want to pick up or because you're too busy. Many cell phones and phone operators have blocking options and you can block undesirable people from contacting you, which includes your boss and your colleagues, an ex-lover or someone you don't get along with. As from spam phone calls, just say “no” and hang up. If you're busy, say so. If you're snowed under, say so. A lot of people I know lose their friends because they repeatedly refuse to pick up their phone calls, then suffer from loneliness.

-Update a list of your friends and cold-call them. Either to set up an appointment sooner or later. Your phone, not Facebook, is where your real friends are.

-Use distance as a rule of thumb. Friend is in town, call. Out of town, email. Not a real friend or not sure you can trust a person, then use Facebook or social media. Texting or messaging people can be interpreted as a sign that you can't trust them or aren't sure you enjoy being with them.

-Email is either purely for professional purposes or for friends who are out of town and who you can't call. Don't email classmates or best friends. If you email best friends or good friends, you want that to be pre-arranged, and want the email to serve as an attachment for files or links you promised them.

-If your crush isn't picking up the phone, you need a new crush. If your boyfriend or girlfriend isn't picking up the phone you need a new boyfriend or girlfriend. If your wife or husband aren't picking up the phone, call your divorce lawyer. Text messages with such people should only involve phone call appointments or shopping lists or forwarded phone numbers.

-Phone calls should lead to direct appointments. Don't pick up the habit of discussing and interacting on the phone more than in real life.

-Voice mail is a matter of personal choice. Some prefer receiving voice mail during working hours while others don't like to pick up the phone and prefer replying calls on voice mail. It should be OK to pick up important phone calls even during important meetings. Voice mail should be a last resort. If you overuse voice mail, you want to take stock of what kind of friends and surroundings you have. Maybe you need new friends and new surroundings.

-Dating is always better when introduced through a mutual friend. Dating apps are weird and full of lies, deception and women tend to be sollicited a lot more than men, plus a lot of people get stood up because in the end it's not always a good idea to meet someone you've never heard of before. Socializing is the best way when it comes to dating, and by that I mean real life socializing. Even when socializing and dating, you want to pick a safe spot and avoid following the other person. A common form of rape is one where the man pretends there's a party in this house and you know the rest. Pick your favorite bar, and leave early at the first date. If possible, date someone either you or your friend sees outside dating hours.

-Facebook is for the three Fs: family, forums and childhood friends. For family, you want to save communications through the phone. For forums, you want to invite a group of friends and have a drink with them instead. For childhood friends, once you've found them on Facebook, you want to update your phone book and email address book updated and keep communications with them private. When it comes to self-promotion, let me tell you I've never heard of anyone get a job or a prized job through Facebook, nor get much of anything through Facebook.

-For Facebook and Twitter, the better way to use them is to pick a few pages and visit those pages without loging into Facebook.     

-For communication with clients, colleagues and students, the flesh and blood bulletin board will be your best friend. Everyone visits the bulletin board. Write, proofread, check, print out, post on the bulletin board. You'll surprise yourself with how much more efficient your communication will be.

-For professional emails, don't send automated responses unless you want to inform the sender that you will not be available for a while, say because you're on leave. But let me tell you something. Even if you're on leave you tend to have email access. For other automated responses, they tend to be negatively perceived by those who receive them. Everyone prefers direct communication.

-Regarding spam. Block people who send you spam. Don't use apps like Block box where people who send you emails have to confirm that they're your friends so the email can move forward. Such apps tend to be perceived as pompous, as in saying “I receive way too much mail, so I want you to confirm that your mail is really important.”

-If you receive too many emails at your company, you need to check who is sending the emails and why emails are being sent. If your clients are sending too many emails, something you're doing is not good or not clear or not efficient. Same goes with if your students or colleagues are sending you too many emails.

-If you're an important person and are receiving too much mail you want to have interns or your staff go through them. Patterns tend to emerge and they tend to be categorized as: “unsollicited advice” or “attention seeking” or “favors that can be dealt with by other people” etc.

-Finally, if you have visitors coming for a visit, you want to call them or have someone call them to chat with them. They all have their own style, but you always want to tell them: what the weather is expected to be, if they have any dietary restrictions, what the food is going to be like, and if they're taking any medications or have conditions that demand medical attention. People tend to be shallow when answering these questions via email or other means.

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