Before the invention of the telegraph, getting an important message across any sort of distance took days, weeks, and even months. The first telegraph message was sent from Washington DC to Baltimore, Maryland using a code developed by Samuel Morse of a series of dots and dashes for
each letter of the alphabet.
The U.S. enjoyed direct communication with Europe by telegraph in 1866 when a cable was placed across the Atlantic Ocean to connect Europe to the Americas.
Communication has always been challenging and a point of contention among humans. Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, a hugely popular relationship book written by John Gray, Ph.D., was a brave attempt to bridge the communication gap between the sexes. Quotes like this one, “Men need to remember that women talk about problems to get close and not necessarily to get solutions” may or may not be true, but it speaks of the value of accurate communication.
The other day, I attempted to arrange a meeting with a client who could not make the time I suggested. My attempt to schedule a meeting was a first attempt to get a time commitment from multiple people that needed to be on the call.
One of the invited attendees, a mandatory attendee, simply rejected the invite saying that he was not available at that time. He did not suggest another time that he was available.
Suggesting alternate times that he was available in the rejection email would have been an excellent response.
I learned many years ago that I should PREDICT what information my client might want to know, be proactive, and answer their questions before they ask them. Imagine the time savings, and the impression left on your client if you are communicating so well that you can anticipate their needs.
When Samuel Morse’s invention was getting heavily used, a telegraph office advertised for a telegraph operator wanting someone who could send and receive messages quickly and accurately.
Jobs were hard to get at that
time and this was a good one to have. The room was full of candidates in chairs waiting to be interviewed for the one position that
A tall skinny man walked in wearing a well-worn suit. He approached the window to check in and receive the paperwork. The woman in the window advised him, as she had all the other candidates before him, to simply fill out the paperwork and sit there until called. “At the appropriate time,”, she said, “This will be the door you will go through”.
Sitting down to fill in the necessary information, he listened to the Clickety Clack, Clickety Clack as an endless series of Dots and Dashes filled the room.
Upon completing the paperwork, he promptly stood up, walked to the door and entered it without being verbally summoned. Imagine the chaos in the room when all the others who had waited patiently saw this man jump the line and get ahead of them.
Surely, it would disqualify him. The group grumbled and complained, but to no avail. Just minutes later, the woman at the window announced to the group, “Thank you all for coming today, the position has been filled.” A man jumped to his feet, “None of us were given an opportunity to interview and to show our skills. How would they not want to pick the best person for the position?”
The woman responded to the crowd, “The entire time that you have all been sitting here, we have been sending a message in Morse code, that once your paperwork was completed, you were instructed to walk through the door that I indicated at check-in, and to bring your paperwork with you into the conference room.”
Sometimes, we are not listening to what we need to be listening to.
Sitting back and waiting is rarely the best move. I had a small motorboat when I was in high school and college (“The Pin-Yacht”), that we used for cruising the rivers of Pittsburgh. Something I learned quickly as a new sailor and something I use to this day, stay away from barges, and keep the boat moving. Without moving forward, the current will take you places you do not want to go.