Communications 101: How a single word cost me $100

Are my generation getting lazier or are they simply getting to the point quicker? I believe an expansion of "the Twitter revolution" needs to take place because the Generation Y communicate in a far different way from the vast majority of old timers in today's workplace.

Yesterday, I woke up at the crack of dawn and narrowly missed my train into London. After walking half a mile through the city and mentally prepared myself for the interview of a position I was hoping to get, I realised I had misread the original email and that I was a month early. FML.

The story

Some weeks ago, I went through the motions of preparations for an interview for an open position, as part of a leading UK charity dedicated to a neurological condition I suffer from. Alas, time went by and correspondence was sent back and forth and eventually received a date and a time for an interview.

I was excited. But as the realisation of what I had already accomplished, the nerves set in as you would expect. The part of the message wrote:

"The Saturday 29th is now proving problematic. We wondered if you could make a meeting with us on the morning of Saturday 26 September at 11am instead?"

By now, it's not too difficult to see the obvious mistake, but I had clearly missed it.

So, yesterday morning I woke up at the crack of dawn, around 6am after an abysmal sleep in heats which covered south-east England, and started with the usual routine. A cup of tea and a smoke outside, followed shortly by a slice of toast and a read through the email messages I had received during the night.

I still find it strange that at that time of morning, my senior editor Sam Diaz was still on Facebook - which to me was yesterday.

A little later, I arrive in London at 10am and navigate my way through the London Underground, a journey I have done so many times before. I enter the office where my meeting was being held and was approached by the person I expected. Suffice to say; at this point I was quietly confident.

Within a few short moments, I then realised my mistake. The email said the Saturday 26th September, and because they had already written "Saturday", I presumed the following "Saturday" was a mistake and should have been Wednesday; referring to the day and in fact the very moment in time I am describing.

As a result of this, £22 on the train fare there, £5 for the Tube travel, £20 booking a conference when I got there, lunch which cost me £8 and £15 on the train fare back. I lost out on roughly $100 because I misread one single, but quite important word.

The techy part

There are two reasons why I failed epically in this scenario and that's because I didn't read an email properly. The email was two paragraphs long and roughly 200 words in length. After discovering a few days ago, today's students communicate in an entirely different way than the already established and more mainstream channels.

Email is still a major part of our lives, but with Facebook and Twitter, other social networking tools and text messages still being a horrendously huge part of the average teenager's life, our use of language online has changed along with it. My sister sends me messages which are in "text speak", and I can't understand it. So, I stopped speaking to her.

Not only I, but many of my working friends of this age, simply cannot stand pointless messages. These pointless messages often require a response instead of being an informative, to-the-point statement of what is happening or when something will happen.

Shorter messages are more concise. Twitter is a perfect example of this and perhaps one of the reasons why it took off in the first place. You are limited to a tiny space and if you overflow, you cannot send the message. SMS isn't bad but has lost the edge over Twitter because you can overflow into multiple messages.

Whether my generation are getting lazier or whether they are simply getting to the point quicker, this could be debated until the cows come home. But I believe an expansion of "the Twitter revolution" needs to take place because the Generation Y communicate in a far different way to the vast majority of old timers in the present workplace.

But the kicker in this story is that I was paranoid as to how much correspondence was being sent and received between myself and this other person. I didn't want them to think I was being a time-waster. So instead of inquiring and clarifying, which under the circumstances still would have made me look like an idiot, I wouldn't have lost $100 in the process.

Do the Generation Y need to change their ways to adapt, or should the system adapt to the Generation Y's way of thinking and speaking?


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