We feature stories in The Light Magazine about endangered species and extremely endangered species. Those types of rankings apply to other aspects of our society as well.

Probably the most endangered object in our lives today is “Communication.”  Look around you in a restaurant these days and the odds are good that more than half of the patrons are looking at their cell phones or texting on them.  And that includes couples on a date where each one is on their separate ‘phone.  It used to be that times like having dinner evoked the long-lost ability of talking to each other.  Some of the discussions were light, like analyzing last night’s ball game, and some were deep, like trying to understand the latest tweet from the White House.  But the most important aspect of the moment was that two people were communicating rather than staring at an object in their hands or on the table.

Of course, this characteristic of our society shouldn’t be surprising. From the time that toddlers are old enough to go out to lunch or dinner with their parents, the parents made their own lives easier by bringing along some electronic device to “babysit” their child while they ate.  How do we expect that these kids will grow up any differently, given this start to their lives?

As they grow older, this early “teachable moment” displays itself in forgetting to return telephone calls (on your Smart Phone, of course) after telling someone “Let’s get together this afternoon” and then not following up. There are certainly many times that we genuinely forget to call someone because we are extremely busy, and the result is that we suffer from “time poverty,” or the inability to deal with everything that’s on our plate, and things slip through the cracks.

This then translates into similar behavior when we get married. Instead of communicating with each other at dinner, we tend to stare at the little screen we accidentally brought with us to the table. Or, after dinner, instead of chatting about the day to come, we stare at the TV to make sure we didn’t miss the most recent killing spree or political scandal.

It is unfortunate, but this trend carries forward into our business lives.  There is much written about why businesses fail, particularly small businesses.  But I disagree with most of the explanations, or excuses.  I think many businesses fail as much because of lack of communication as anything else. 

How many times have you called a particular vendor and didn’t get a return call?  If that vendor had followed up with you it may well have resulted in a sale.  Or, the vendor does the work and sends you an invoice that is indecipherable, or contains details about work that they never discussed with you?  Or, you go days or weeks without receiving a communication about their progress on the job?

These are the relationships in business that drive people crazy.  You need something done and no one is willing to fulfill the need, and then complain that there is not enough business to survive.  Don’t leave people in the lurch, communicate with them.  They may be willing to wait until you’re available, if that’s the issue.

The key in each of these situations is to communicate so that everyone involved will understand both sides of the issue and not be disappointed by what seems to be intentional inaction by the other party.  Put down your cell phone or other electronic device and discuss your needs and expectations!

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