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Issue #43: Technology is killing communication


James Costa

January 30 · Issue #43 · View online

A batch of thoughts, resources, and motivation from a friendly digital agency owner delivered every Monday at 6am ET.

If you’re anything like me, you have an awful habit of checking your emails in the bed every morning. I’d wager that how good your morning is is drastically impacted by what you have waiting for you.
Communication has changed. We’re spending more time communicating with each other virtually (email, social media, tools for work), and less in-person. The problem with this change is that we haven’t caught up with it. We misinterpret what people mean because we try to figure out hidden meanings. We’re able to re-read entire conversations and share them with others to try and figure out whether someone likes us or not.
It’s enough to drive a person mad. And I believe it is.
The issue isn’t that technology has destroyed communication as much as we don’t know how to communicate in this new way. Some people use more emoji(s?) than others, others prefer proper grammar and punctuation. Some people speak in numbered lists to allow for more structured discussions whereas others feel that’s too impersonal. Is any one style better than another?
How we write says a lot about our personalities, but can also have an impact on our readers: which isn’t always something we tend to think about when we’re emailing, or taking our time to respond to someone. On one hand communication has become frictionless, but on the other we’ve lost all empathy.
Running a remote agency, I work with people who have a variety of personalities and ways of communicating (both on my team, and through the clients we work with), and nearly all of our communication happens via email, Slack, and Trello. How we perceive others has a lot to do with how effectively they communicate.
I believe effective (online) communication comes down to speed, focus, and empathy. Speed allows us to leverage the true power of technology (and has a strategic advantage of not overthinking). Focus is our message, our thoughts, and our experience. Empathy brings everything together and reminds others that we’re human.
The balance of these is important, but what’s key is empathy. We have a sincere privilege to communicate more effectively than ever before, but understanding the limitations of email and trying to counter them in how we communicate is important. You never know when one of your emails is being over analyzed and has ruined someone’s morning.
PS: If you enjoyed this week’s issue, I’d really appreciate your support sharing it. Whether it’s a forward, a Twitter post, or writing me a love letter, it would mean the world to me.

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“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
― George Bernard Shaw
My son has learned how to solve a Rubik’s cube, so I’m pretty terrified that he’s moving into learning how to do things I could never figure out. Pretty soon he’s going to be able to beat me at FIFA soon: and then it’s all over.
As always, if you have any questions or I can help you in any way, all you have to do is respond to this email!
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