The "Meaning" Behind Written Communication

Length, Timing, and Lack of Online Responses

by Gail Berg

This is somewhat a blog on ettiquette topics.

It was based on an email I wrote in response to someone distress when their respondent was upset at the shortness of a response.

Shortness

I too have had folks upset at me for "short" responses.

Those who do not know me may think me rude, curt, insulting, etc., when I respond with one sentence, an URL, or even one word.

With the information overload prevalent in our society, the brevity of short responses should never be construed as lack of manners, simply an effort to get the response out as quickly and succinctly as possible.

Historically, some societies required a long (time) period of "introduction"/pleasantries before the business could even be mentioned. This could be *days* in duration.

Most of us were "taught" to exchange pleasantries via the telephone. Yet, there are times when I can make a call, not even introduce myself (due to the familiarity of our relationship) and immediately just ask a question (especially with Caller ID).

I am often amused when listening to talk radio and there's 10-15 seconds of "introductions, salutations" for each caller before the (first) question is asked. Some require 2-3 back and forth interactions, some just one.

There are folks who still do most of their communication via the phone or in person and do not understand/realize that there are other "shortened" forms/methods of communication via the written word. This is especially true of the "older" generations who have often been forced to use email for communication; think of a grand parent who is uncomfortable with emails, but who will talk for hours on the phone.

There's also the issue of physical ability that may require shortness. A person suffering from repetitive stress injury (RSI), bad ergonomincs, or other illnesses/injuries may not be able to type more than a few words (and those with great difficulty) either due to injured hands, or the inability to "sit" for periods of time in front of a computer to read/respond.

Tolerance and understanding should never go away.

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