Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Why people should shut up and start writing...

I wanted to call this post, 'The merits of written communication'. But it sounded like a chapter straight out of some management book (I detest those).

So anyway, A few months ago, I made an insightful discovery. It was during this meeting at work. The meeting had been held to discuss a merger and negotiate its terms and conditions.

Now personally I feel a merger is a useless pursuit. Nobody really cares about it other than the filthy rich companies who are 'merging'. But well, rich people have time on their hands and they like to waste it on things that sound important. A merger is one of them.

So coming back to the meeting, we were the lawyers for one of the companies and the other company had brought along their lawyer too. The meeting began at 4.00 pm and there was coffee and cake, which was good, because food really helps generate my interest. But it got over soon, and then began the 6 longest hours of my life.

Everyone just kept talking and talking and it got nowhere. After 3 long hours, the company guys finally gave up, but both the lawyers kept rambling on for another 3 hours. It had now turned into a 'Which party has the better lawyer' contest. What was I doing? I was sitting there looking all important and professional in my suit and doodling endlessly on my notepad (I did some really inspired sketching that day, I remember drawing a donkey).

Finally at 10.00 pm, everyone got really hungry and decided to call it a day (or night...whatever)
But the negotiation got nowhere. We were still stuck at square one when we all walked out like zombies from the office that night.

That's when I discovered that people achieve nothing out of verbal communication. They only waste time. Over the next few days, both the companies exchanged some e-mails and finalized the merger. No talking and no waste of time. I liked that. Both the lawyers didn't. They were robbed of an opportunity to argue with each other again (yes. we enjoy that thoroughly). But those 6 long hours spent on pointless haggling were never going to come back.

So what I'm trying to say is, people are bad at listening and good at reading and comprehending. So one ought to write more and talk less. Use e-mails, text messages, anything it takes to pass the written word around. Just avoid talking.

Also, nobody can interrupt you or argue with you while you're writing. The person HAS to read whatever you have written, even in order to disagree with you later on. Its a brilliant thing.

I'm telling you, someday peace will be restored in the world because of the written word (no kidding). After all, the pen is mightier than the sword :)

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