Lost In Communication
Are you listening? canstockphoto2074619
"Hello? Mr. Chanchuty?"
"'See-an-Sooty' (Ciancutti) actually, but that's close enough."
"Yes, Mr. Chanchuty we will have a truck in your area Monday. Do you have clothes to donate?"
"Yes I do. I'll have them bagged and tagged on the front step on Monday."
"Our company is collecting clothes on behalf of the poor and needy in your area."
"Yes, I have clothes for you."
"Do you think you can possibly donate some clothes to our cause?"
"They will be picked up on Monday."
"I know I know - I'll have them ready."
"Can you put the clothes in a plastic bag?"
"YES! YES! I said I would."
"The bag needs to be tagged with our name on it."
"Lady, I KNOW. I said I'd have them bagged and tagged."
"Please write the name of our organization on a paper that you attach to the bag."
"And Mr. Chanchutty where will you leave this bag?"
"Thank you for speaking loudly and clearly Mr. Chanchutta."
"Just let me confirm your address."
"Sure thing, it's 18023 Franklin."
"I show 1....8......0......2.......3..... Francis."
"Franklin - in like you stay at an inn."
"Oh - two n's?"
"No but it sounds like that. FRANKLIN. IN IN IN IN."
"Oh, I see Franklinin."
.....sigh (resigning) "Yes, that's right."
"Mr. Chancutto do you have any large items to donate?"
"No. Just probably two bags of clothes."
"And you will label those individually?"
"But no large items?"
"O.K.. so our truck will be there Monday. Please have the marked bags of clothes on the porch by 8 a.m. and any large items need to be tagged separately."
"I don't have any large items."
"You don’t have any large items?"
"Oh – O.K.. A flyer will be left for you to help you determine any tax credits for your contribution."
"Yes, I know I have done this before."
"You've done this before? Oh, then you have an existing account with us. Can you hold the line please and I will check."
"Miss, I really must go."
"Are you on 1 8 0 2 3 Frank - lin?"
(long pause).... "Yes!"
"Franklin. Franklin. Franklin."
"Oh – FRANKLIN - your account is all set up already Mr. Chancutta, we have you right here. Mr. Chancutty? Are you there?"
"Our truck will be in your area on Monday."
"O.K. You are most welcome sir. Please be sure to mark your bags."
My friends I wish I was dramatizing this conversation but it is almost verbatim. As soon as she hung up I wrote the whole thing down because I was in absolute disbelief and wanted to repeat it for you clearly. If you look at the first few lines of the conversation I said right off the bat that “I will have the clothes bagged and tagged and on the front step.” She could have easily responded with “OK, I show 18023 Franklin as the address and we will see you on Monday.” End of story with all critical data transmitted. Instead I had to endure this idiotic mantra of lines she was clearly instructed to read to the party she called. She was not going to let me go until she got to the bottom of her page. Now obviously a lot of the calls must be to people who are oblivious because the script is written for the most inattentive of people but come on, that much repetition? It just goes to show that no matter how far we have come with methods of communication, we are still sorely lacking in the communicative skill of LISTENING. It reminds me of the Oscar Wilde quote where he says people today “know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” How can we have cell phones with texts, Twitter and email, an internet community that knows where you are 24/7 and a constant influx and upgrade of news yet the simplest of conversations requires this much guidance and monitoring? It is ridiculous.
As a departmental director one of the things I strive for is the decentralization of power so that information in the field is channeled into the next stage of management and finalized when brought to the director. In other words good field testing of a product translates to a tightly written bid specification which translates to a final purchase that is exactly what was intended. This kind of accuracy can only be achieved when the people along that chain feel empowered to make recommendations, communicate short falls and render strong opinions. Yet is seems more and more the people working those channels are merely robots and unable to interpret the simplest of discussions. This inability forecasts a weak future in communication despite the much improved and readily available avenues for data.
Ron Ciancutti is the Director of Procurement for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .