In today’s day and age, email and texting have replaced talking on the phone in most cases. Sure, since most of our clients are not local, my weeks are filled with numerous conference calls, but most of them are scheduled meetings with an agenda of sorts. In fact, I am so insistent on being cognizant of other peoples’ time that I am good about ensuring there is a purpose to each meeting. It’s pretty rare to just pick up the phone and talk to one of my team members, a client or a colleague unless it is related to a project. While this sensitivity to not wasting the time of others has earned me and my team a reputation for being very efficient, this reality has created a norm in which getting together to talk doesn’t happen as much as it should. What’s worse, because unscheduled talking is so out of the norm, when someone says they want to talk, I assume something is wrong. In fact, I can’t think of a time in recent memory in which a client sent me an email that said that we needed to talk was a good thing!
However, my dear team member Anita continues to evolve my thinking. A New Yorker as well as a seasoned journalist and editor with extensive experience in industrial and manufacturing sectors, she is a true asset to our clients in those markets. A member of our team for five years, Anita frequently sends me an email and asks if we can talk. I must admit that the first 15 times I received such an email, I assumed something was wrong. Was she unhappy? Was she struggling with a project? What in the world did she want to talk about? The answer? Simply that she wants to talk.
Sure, during our conversation we get caught up on the projects she is working on, but then we also get caught up on life. Anita asks about my kids and my running. I in turn ask about her Italian and ballet class. We have the conversations we would have around a water cooler or the coffee pot in the break-room if we worked in the same office. And I am always happier and more connected when we hang up. Her insistence on us “catching up” once or twice a week reminds me of the importance of simply chatting once in a while. In fact, after chatting with Anita, I am always prompted to pick up the phone and check in with a client, a partner we are working with or another team member. Good ideas and good will always flow from those conversations.
Somehow my insistence of not wasting time and being efficient needs to expand a bit to find room for good old fashion conversation. If I give you a call soon to just say hello, I hope you’ll take my call.