Pick up the phone

A friend told us the other day about a troubling family matter.

His children, long absent from the matrimonial home and engaged in their own lives, now would require a text prior to a phone call from their dad. Their busy lives required an appointment, according to their mother, who delivered the new protocols.

It wasn’t as bad as first presented, since it was more about a heads-up in advance of a call to be sure they connected. But it does signal a change in how people communicate even within their families.

After that personal newsflash, the spillover of these attitudes in the workplace led to a protracted conversation on what technology is really doing for us and to us.

Regularly in chats with friends that manage companies the “I emailed them” comment comes up. Rather than expedite matters with a phone call, email becomes a crutch that at least shows some effort to accomplish a task, without necessarily achieving the task. The old-timers (myself included) are just as happy to grab the phone to get results.

There is far more to effective communication than simply delivering a message. Dealing direct, in person or on the phone, gives obvious clues as to how the message is being received, if at all.

Is the customer excited for what is being offered, or cool to the notion? Emails and texts don’t always signal those clues.

Most of us have had occasion to see an email conversation turn toxic or be misinterpreted. Again, tone is something that doesn’t come through clearly in a text-only conversation.

Of course, there are emojis, but that is another conversation on its own.

Farewell visit

I was startled to read an ad a couple of weeks ago where a man announced his own celebration of life. It’s not something I can ever recall seeing, but the fact Don McNiven was the one to break new ground with such an unconventional invitation is no surprise.

The line-up was long, winding through the front doors of the Graham Giddy Funeral Home in Fergus all the way up the stairs to a reception area. There Don and Shirley sat accepting friends and having a short visit with each person.

Don was always one to smile. He was also one to work. For decades he tirelessly served this community, whether it be volunteering with non-profits or service clubs or being the congenial host of local cable programs.

In introducing him to my son I made the mistake of referring to Don as an old friend. He promptly corrected me, noting he is a dear friend, not old. It lightened the mood, allowing for a handshake and a soft goodbye.

Celebrating life – it’s something people should do every single day.