I recently had a situation at work where I sent out a personalized fax for 8000 people.
Fax, I can hear you snort disdainfully. Faxes are so … 1970s.
True. I personally hate faxes – both sending and receiving. They’re bulky, they require painful preparatory stages to either composing or replying, and they’re notoriously undependable, relying as they do upon such antiquated requirements as an adequate supply of paper in your recipient’s machine!
However, faxing was one of the first technologies to thoroughly exploit the network effect, and the great advantage of a fax is that when you send one (and it gets through successfully) there is an actual physical piece of matter in someone else’s personal or workspace that cannot be ignored quite as simply as an email.
Plus, if you don’t have email addys for the 8000 people, you’re kind of stuck with what you’ve got.
In any case, I composed the fax, and then circulated it around for some review. Even I’m not quite brash (read: stupid) enough to send something to thousands of people before asking for a few other eyes and perspectives on my work.
One of the respondants did something interesting: she changed all my “you’lls” and “it’lls” into “you wills” and “it wills.” Plus, there were other changes to generally make the fax more correct, professional, and formal.
I hated every single change from the bottom of my passionately informal heart.
People want authenticity. They want others to be real. They want communication to be real. They want to see, read, and hear messages that are natural.
Their bullshit filters snap into place at the slightest hint of corporatese. And so do mine.
That’s why the Cluetrain is so important. That’s why articles like this one are so important.
Masks are boring. Your idea of what sounds “professional” is boring. Your CYA language is boring. Speaking to your boss while writing to me is boring.
Worse, at some level, people perceive it as deceptive. And it is.
Be real. Be authentic. Be genuine. Be heard!