I recently had the shortest telephone conversation of my life, involving no more than five words. It was short and to the point and would not have been possible without the two parties knowing each other so well. The other party was a good friend of mine who appreciates a cigar as much as I do. On Fridays, after work, it has become customary for us to sit down in his backyard, light up, and decompress from the week's events. We've done this so often, we no longer find it necessary to waste a lot of time with lengthy conversations on the phone. It went like this:
Friend: "Come over."
As I was driving over to his house, I reflected on the brevity of the conversation which could not have lasted more than seven seconds. In the past, such conversations would take a lot longer, for example:
Me: "How are you doing? What's going on?"
Friend: "Not much. I'm just bushed from the week. I've been fighting with the usual gang of idiots at work. They're driving me crazy."
Me: "Me too. I had some crackpot call me today from Timbuktu who wanted to argue about my column. I listened to him carefully, thanked him for his input, and then blocked him from calling me again after we hung up. I'm beat."
Friend: "Me too. Why don't you come over for a cigar?"
Me: "Yea, I think I'll swing by after I clean up my desk and shut things down. I'll see you in about a half hour."
Friend: "No problem, I'll see you then."
Instead of seven seconds, our conversation would normally take about five minutes. From a technical point of view, the shortness of the conversation represented a quantum leap in improved productivity. However, I think this is another instance where we've been conditioned by technology. Instead of being more personable with the other party, we're now content to operate with small sound bites, a type of shorthand not too dissimilar to what people use in text messaging.
Interestingly, when I finally caught up with my friend at his house, we sat down and lit up our cigars and kicked back to relax. We could finally unwind and articulate the week's trials and tribulations:
Me: "Anything new?"
Friend: "No. SOS."
(And we puffed away on our cigars as we checked our messages on our cell phones).
How about that? Another record.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at email@example.com
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Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.