Chapter 17Influencing ElectronicallyThe Wonders and Terrors of Instant Communication

Words are also actions, and actions are a kind of words.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Welcome to the (Too Much) Information Age

There is nothing that will make the effects of a vacation or long weekend disappear faster than the realization that we have hundreds of messages to deal with. The electronic networks that were supposed to make our lives easier and more efficient have become sticky spiderwebs of complexities that attract and trap time and effort.

Because of the mobility of many families, electronic media have become more and more important in communicating with one another. With children who are away at college, spouses and partners who are doing business in another part of the world, parents who have retired and moved, and siblings and friends who live far away, our personal lives are also filled with opportunities to influence electronically.

At work, many of us belong to teams with members scattered across the globe, many of whom we may never meet in person. We frequently participate in video-, web-, or teleconferences. Leaders and those who report to them may be based in very different time zones, with little opportunity for face-to-face conversations. Our workday can stretch to accommodate our global team, partners, or customers.

Like it or not, we live in a world in which we must communicate with and influence people whom we seldom see. Realistically, much of our communication, and thus ...

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