Think before you text

There are four main types of current/modern one-on-one communication.

The first is the email, the most common form of transferring information from one person to another. It’s passive, and sending an email implies less urgency, usually, knowing that the recipient will see it at some point and will respond at some point. Also good for sending documents, links, and information.

The second is the phone call, good for when you need to bounce ideas back and forth, confirm something in real time, or check something off a list you have in front of you.

The third is the face-to-face, essential when presenting a physical product such as a wine, or when you need to build more intimacy in the exchange. Also good for private/confidential meetings of any sort.

The fourth is the instant ping. The interrupter. This can be done through Facebook, Twitter, text message, or a number of other services. Whatever platform is used, it’s the thing that will cause the phone of the recipient to chirp and vibrate, cause the driver to get distracted, and cause the person in the middle of any of the other three forms of communication to pause, stop, look, think, make an instant opinion, then put it away.

Weight the difference between them when considering the questions you are asking.

Yesterday I was meeting face-to-face with two reps from a wholesaler who really wanted me to get to know them better, get to know their portfolio, get to know them as people. (I consult for a restaurant chain that sells $1M of wine per year.) The meeting was low pressure, a slow build, and rooted in interest and questions about the restaurant, directions it is going in, and opportunities they might have for us that would fit a niche. Less about the wholesaler, less about me, everything about problem solving for the restaurant I consult for.

Twice during the meeting my phone buzzed, so I looked at it.

“So are we going to do any business or not?” came the text from the rep of another wholesaler. He didn’t actually say that, but that’s how I read it and that’s what matters. The answer is, now, probably not.

The next buzz … a direct message through Facebook (verbatim): “Would you ever be interested in working with any of our wines?” A softer version of the same question but still not worthy of interruption. And rather strange in its style, for to be honest I don’t know their portfolio (they have not shown the graceful perseverance of the people I was lunching with). I replied honestly with “Possibly.” Their response? I’m still waiting for it. Apparently they can interrupt me but I can’t interrupt them. Scratch them off the list.

The instant ping, the interrupter, should be used carefully. Think before you text, and consider if one of the other three methods would fit your goals better.