Last week, during text or email exchanges with three separate people, I caught myself being lazy.
“You should definitely come over with your wife. What time does the All-Star game start?”
“What’s the difference between a LinkedIn Post and a LinkedIn Article?”
“I don’t know how to share a Twitter thread, so here’s a screenshot of part of what was said — you should look up the rest.”
Each communication is essentially a different version of the same idea:
“Instead of taking 35 seconds to Google something and learn about it for myself so that I can then share it with you and/or push our conversation into more fruitful and interesting territory, I’m going to assign a chore to you. Once you complete that chore, looking up what needs to be looked up, and get back to me, we can continue this conversation.”
That’s just bad conversational etiquette. In real life (IRL), it would be the equivalent of standing in your kitchen with someone and asking him to do things for you that you could just as easily do for yourself. In the physical world, it would be obvious that you were being lazy. In the digital world, that’s not always so obvious.
From now on, I’m going to try to only ask people questions — or assign people information chores — that I can’t quickly lookup online. At the very least, this will save them time. At the very most, it will honor their expertise and my faith in them.
As a side benefit, I bet that this practice will benefit me personally. I’ll learn more heading into conversations and exchanges and most likely advance those conversations and exchanges more efficiently because we won’t be covering ground covered elsewhere. We’ll be covering ground that only we — together — can cover. What else is a genuine relationship for?