My outlook express was not responding from the last 25 mins. It was trying to receive just 2 messages. "Did anyone, by mistake, attach Windows Vista to the mail they sent?", I managed to smile even in that frustration. Finally, outlook finished the job. They were 2 forwards!
The first one had the subject "Best Friend". The content was usual - "I am fortunate to have such a friend like you...friends are God's greatest gift...friends make everyday like a sunshine day...if you get this mail back from someone, you know that they also consider you as their best friend...blah blah blah..."
Whats new in this, you might ask. All these quotes were written in images! Add to that, "A - accepts you as you are, B - Believes in you....Z - Zaps you back to reality" (Oh, I hate these "expansion creativity", let me try something like that, for LOVE, L - Life becomes beautiful, O - Offers meaning to our existence, V - Very valuable, E - Enchanting experience)
The second one was a PPT, about "Did you know?"
Did you know that those who love others are the ones who are in need of love the most?
Did you know that people who wear yellow dress are bubbly?
Did you know that people who wear black dress love solitude?....
And the quotations having an image of a couple, a girl in yellow dress, another in black etc.
And the most irritating thing is, I had received the text versions of these umpteen number of times! Before I go further, let me make it very clear. I am not against forwards, not even against large attachment forwards, or any form of communication. I am not a great communicator myself and no expert by any means on this subject. But, I just wanted to write about the thoughts I had and to provide an outlet for my frustration.
I feel the most abused communication form is SMS. Blame it on the hutch and airtel offers of 100 free SMS for 1 rupee daily!
- You are sitting in a boring conference call. (Hey, is there anything called an interesting conference call? ;)) You want to tell something funny to a friend sitting in the other end of the room. Yes, SMS is a great tool!
- You are on the way home, but got stuck up in the traffic jam. Send a message to your mom, saying "Stuck in traffic. May be late". Perfect!
- You are planning to go to a movie. You SMS your friend, "Wanna join for the movie tomorrow?". Your friend has no idea what time is the show or what movie you are talking about. If he is also a SMS freak like you, he will reply "Which movie?". At Least 10 SMS flow around to decide something. A single call of less than a minute could have decided everything! My belief is that call is the better option for a two-way communication, and not SMS!
- Are you one of those who sends 10 Santa-Banta jokes everyday? If you are, for heaven's sake, please remember properly, you might have forwarded the same jokes by email a week earlier.
- If there is something visual, like the picture of a heart using * and #, send it by SMS. It makes sense!
Coming to mails. If the mail is about quotations, they can be sent as text message. You need not have the pictures of babies, mountains or dancing smileys or a PPT slide to convey that. But, if you are sending top view images from Google earth of eiffel towers, taj mahal etc, yes, it makes sense!
Let me talk about communication in offices.
- If there is something crucial and urgent, its better to call the concerned persons or go and talk to them in person. Mail is not the best option (Many email clients are configured to check mails every 30 mins, and not many people change that!)
- If you want to get clarifications from someone at a different location, use voice chat or call them. Dont keep on IM-ing for hours!
- If you are trying to debug something with a person at a different location, use IM along with voice. Voice - to describe things and IM - to copy the stack trace, log contents etc.
To summarize things, I believe communication is mainly about to whom, what and how.
- To whom - Know your audience beforehand. If the mail is about some virus threat, send it to all in your mailing list. If it is about best friends, send it to only best friends or even good friends, not to acquaintances at least (I cant believe anyone having 50 best friends)
- What - Send messages to only those to whom that message matters. Don't send all messages to everyone in your contact list. There is no point sending a forward about Thirupathi Balaji Darshan to your atheist friends!
- How - No means of communication is bad. Think for a moment. Use the most suitable one.
Do I make sense?