Business Interactions Pre-Zoom


Whatever happened to business interactions? I remember the days……….

Read On:

When you just picked up a phone and called people at their desk unscheduled. Then came voicemail – “Sorry I am currently away from my desk. Your call is very important to me, so at the tone please leave a detailed message.” To avoid voicemail, I began to call a few minutes before lunch or at the end of the day to catch people at their desk. Then came “Sorry the voicemail box is full.”

Before there was email, there were grammatically correct, proofed three times interoffice memos typed by secretaries (note: now called administrative assistants) delivered in brown envelopes which piled up in my inbox. I actually had one boss who got irate his staff was not responding in a timely manner so he special ordered blue envelopes so we knew to respond immediately when his blue envelopes showed up.

Then came email complete with typos and lengthy copy lists including everyone in the organization except the mailroom. People would even email co-workers down the hall or a few cubicles away. Then email became the standard modus operandi, a popular form of communication. Subsequently, people became overwhelmed especially when they traveled which led to the evolution of “I am currently out of the office” bounce back messages. Now in the era of smartphones with 5G networks people actually added to their message, “I have limited access to my email so if you need immediate help, you can _______.” (Note: I will let you fill in the blank).

Before LinkedIn people would network internally over lunch or externally at conferences or trade shows; engage, exchange business cards and write follow-up notes.

Before COVID-19 people traveled to conferences/tradeshows and filled out expense reports documenting how they spent OPM (a.k.a. other peoples’ money). For the record: OPM paid for the best wine course I ever took.

Before working remotely, people booked conference rooms for meetings without agendas. Then came meeting agendas and minutes to improve productivity, plus CYA. Then to further increase meeting productivity came catered working lunches with oversized chocolate chip cookies. Productivity increased to the next level when meetings were held first thing in the morning complete with catered breakfasts. For the record: I alwayswondered where all the tea bags and Splenda packets disappeared to. 

Before working remotely, people casually engaged at water coolers or break rooms or by working the halls.

Then came Zoom!

2 thoughts on “Business Interactions Pre-Zoom

  1. In health care we have been noting the loss of in person collaboration with over reliance on charts rather than actually talking with colleagues about tough case, , and the flood of emails is just swamping . Thanks for this piece.


  2. Spot on! My partner coined the phrase “dump and run” applying to voicemail, email, text, slack and other indirect communications. It’s not wonder people can’t get along properly… they never learned how!

    A dear friend has passed a few years ago was an “old school” kinda guy. Bernie Otis was the ULTIMATE networker, and it always started with either an in-person contact or telephone call. The current communication style used to drive him crazy! He was a very kind gentleman with a great sense of humor! Take a read through this interview with Bernie… it will lift your day!


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