Lost in Translation

With today’s technology, it’s no surprise that we rely heavily on it for communication. Text messaging. Emailing. Facebook messenger. Gchat. Slack. All these tools have become crucial when running a business, regardless of the industry, and they are enormously helpful.


But they’ve also created a situation for us that I’m sure you all know well; I call it the “lost in translation” syndrome. It’s reading into that extra dot at the end of a text. Misunderstanding an emoji. Wondering why something was phrased a certain way in an email. All these things we think about over and over in our own heads without considering what might be the most simple answer: talk to them in person.


We have forgotten what it is like to meet in person.


If I don’t use an exclamation point or a question mark or three dots at the end of  message I send, people will come to all sorts of conclusions that are so off base from what I am truly trying to communicate. Even my own wife will send a text in a reply to a phone call. Today’s innovators have invented entirely new ways for us to share ideas, thoughts and feelings, which is incredible. But we’ve lost a lot, too. Our one to one connections have been replaced by the back and forth, the “what did they really mean”, the emoji-laden messages where for one person the smirking emoji is a good thing and another it’s a bad thing.


There has to be a middle ground.


Here’s the real deal: we need to speak to our co-workers in person. Say hello in the hall when you pass them. Acknowledge them. Ask them a question. Be curious, inquisitive. Before you ping them over chat from your cubicle ten feet away, consider going up to them and talking in person instead. Follow up on emails in person. Certainly, continue to reiterate over email, writing, get things down and get everyone on the same page. But that quick one off, that brief exchange – make it happen over a coffee or a walk.


It’s important to see people.

It’s important to speak face to face.


In light of all of this, I’m leaving you all with an assignment.


Here it is: this week, take 5 messages you would normally email or text and instead, have the discussion over a phone call or, if possible, in person. See how it changes your business.