Some of you may remember the longest running TV Western of all time, “Gunsmoke” which was on for over 20 years during the late 50’s through the early 70’s. The main characters were Matt Dillon a US Marshall, Kitty Russell who ran the Long Branch Saloon and Doc Adams who was the local doctor — there was also Chester Good who hung around with Matt at the Marshalls’ office and later on, Festus Hagan, the scruffy but wise, old tracker with a “real strong but colorful cowpoke accent”. Now, I know I’m dating myself here a bit, but I have found that when I watch a re-run of the show even today, a light bulb pops on in my little brain that makes me appreciate dealing with people “face to face”.
In our fast-paced and high tech world we live in today, I wonder sometimes how really effective email, cell-phones, twitter, facebook and other gadgets are versus just simply talking or meeting with people and finding out what is really on their minds?
For example, I know that we all have received emails from someone that seemed vague and incomplete — I often wonder if sometimes people respond to an email too quickly without really thinking about what they are trying to say and we wonder how thoughtful the answer really is? I know none of us have ever done that, right?
But if you are with someone face to face, you have the opportunity to see the expressions on their face, see the body language, and you get immediate feedback to your questions. And you have an immediate opportunity to respond with an “oh really?” or “can you tell me more?” or “what do think would happen if” type questions. That’s pretty hard to do with email, and you have to wait for a typed response, which most of the time you need to clarify by phone or in person anyway!
Those of us who remember “Gunsmoke”, know that Matt always had to ride out to someone’s ranch to track down an outlaw “in person”. Doc had to visit many of his patients by making “house calls”. And if you needed to find out the skinny on someone, the local gossip happened at Kitty’s Long Branch Saloon where Chester or Festus were usually hanging out. That was just the way it was – there were no shortcuts getting to people. There were no other means of communicating back then other than meeting someone face to face. That was the way it was.
I don’t know about you but every time I meet with someone, I always get a lot more information about the person or the opportunity than if I had emailed them or even talked with them by phone.
There was an ad on TV about 10 years ago portrayed by a business man who passed out airline tickets so that his staff could actually go out and meet with their customers, something that they felt hadn’t been done for several years with the invention of email. Even the manager had bought a ticket for himself. Imagine that – going out and meeting with your customers or prospects! – people who are sending you money or potentially will!
Isn’t it about time we all “saddle up” and do more face to face meetings when possible? I know that this blog may sound pretty extreme or old fashioned to some, and I’m sure I will get feedback, good, bad or otherwise, but sometimes just getting back to the basics and the fundamentals of meeting someone “face to face” is the best way to show that you are interested in learning more about others and less about what gadgets we use to “communicate” with people. I know that I have also fallen into this trap so I need to practice what I’m preaching here. Okay, I think I’ve gotten off my high horse now…..
Matt, Doc, Kitty, Chester and Festus I’m sure would be proud of all of us for doing that —- Ride on!