Recently, I sent an Amazon gift card via email to my brother-in-law for his birthday. I decided to upload a picture taken from the deck of his lake house to customize the image of the card. This did not take long, and I thought he would like the personal picture better than the Amazon logo that is emblazoned on their standard gift card.
After I pressed send on the e-gift card, we called him, asking him to check his email inbox for the incoming gift-card email.
“Did you get it?”,
“Why don’t you check your junk email folder, it could be in there.”
“No, I don’t see anything.”
“Check your email trash.”
“Well, maybe Amazon has not sent it out yet.”
“Let’s give it some time and see”
Days later I remembered to check back — still no email!
I decided to investigate. I logged onto Amazon and checked my list of completed orders. Sure enough, the gift card order was at the top of the list.
I began to scrutinize the original gift card order and message. I checked the ‘send to’ email address that I had used and compared it to my contacts database on my computer.
Uh-oh, I found two slightly different email addresses for my brother-in-law. I quickly resent the card using the other email address and called to see if it went through.
Success! The belated gift had finally arrived at its destination – the inbox of my brother-in-law.
I learned three things from this experience.
1) Small details make a huge difference on our ability to communicate. It turns out that I transposed just two letters in the entire email address. This one mistake prevented me from **any** communication with the intended party.
Certain things we say or do can totally mute our message as we try to communicate and connect with others. One racial or otherwise inappropriate comment or joke can effectively send our targeted messages strait to the trash can in people’s minds.
2) If you’re not connecting with others, it is most likely your fault. My first response is typically to assign blame elsewhere. That is what I did with the gift card situation.
I only looked at the area under my control as a last resort. If we focus on others behaviors, we are focusing on things that we can not inherently control. Also, I wasted a lot of time looking for other’s mistakes when the source of the problem was right under my nose!
It is far more effective for us to look first within and evaluate our own thoughts, beliefs and actions. This is the area that we can control.
Good leaders take ownership of the situation at hand. This means leading and guiding by example. When we focus on our own thoughts and behaviors, we become a powerful role model to lead and guide those who follow our lead.
3) Small things can make a big impact on our ability to communicate. My brother-in-law loved his customized gift card image.
It took a couple of minutes to find the image on my computer and upload it to Amazon, but it made a special impression on the recipient.
This one small customization transformed the gesture from merely communicating to connecting. Communication delivers information, connection touches the recipient at an emotional level and has far more impact.
How do you communicate and connect with those around you?