A few things happened recently which made me realise I wanted to note these bits on the ‘rules of engagement’. Germany and Europe is full of rules and expectations. I am not entirely sure whether they always follow these in other locations, but in their own countries the hefty fines ensure there’s rarely an out. I’m a big fan of structure and process, considering they can enhance productivity. But I am constantly finding limitations of rigidity as well.
the rules of engagement in communities: my Google+ story
I want to write this whole Google+ story down. But I’m going to show you. I joined a Content Marketing Group on Google+, which frankly is really good. People share wonderful insights and the discussions are quite enriching. I do not regret joining the group, and was often using posts from this blog as discussion starters. But often someone would kill the discussion with a rule they remembered and got offended.
the rules of engagement: my German bloggers’ story
Firstly, there are few people in Germany who want to blog or understand blogging. I have been writing to several bloggers mainly for co-creation and brainstorming. None reply. Obviously because, how can they reply to a strange Email, that too, God forbid in English. Additionally, my colleagues recently pointed out that, I’ve not been using ‘Frau/ Herr Last name’ in my Emails which offends them. Using a first name is killing people apparently. And I write in English, not German. I pointed that out too. And apparently the usual response is that, oh, we’re conservative. I think it is not that. I think very few bloggers who mostly come from traditional media backgrounds (or mindsets) only, and have such high demand in absence of casual bloggers leads to them affording to behave like this. They don’t even think there’s anything wrong in not communication, after all, it’s a favour, right?
Unfortunately, blogging like most other communication tools is relationship based. These are generally not one sided. I refuse to believe that they can’t see that the medium by itself is not based on formalities and knowing the exact steps to bow in front of the Duke when he hands you the Wimbledon trophy. It’s far more earthy and organic as a communication platform. And if a blogger doesn’t get that, they don’t understand the mechanics at all. Why are you blogging professionally, if you can’t take Emails from strangers or be addressed in a non-German way? For the lack of a stronger word, that’s just being unfriendly. There’s nothing cool about that.
the rules of engagement: my Whatsapp story
It has happened several times before, but not everyone is a texting regular and I understand it. I do think a personal- meet and greet medium is the best. But there are times, when I know the person is busy where I’d send a Whatsapp message because I am so eager to share something and don’t want to wait to get to a phone call. The response I received was: Whatsapp messages sound like a to-do list and I do not want more at that end of the day. It just annoyed me, even after I slept over it. The result was I didn’t feel like communicating anymore.
The point I am making is this: We make rules, processes and best practices to improve the engagement. They are pointless if they come in the way of the engagement or communication itself. It’s nice to have people obsessed with rules, structures and perfect ways. However, there’s no point in these definitions, if they hinder what they’re trying to make perfect in the first place. Because most human beings don’t behave like machines following a set of perfect protocols.