I got engaged a week and a half ago. I did not blog about it because it didn’t have to do with marketing and it was kind of personal. But, unbeknownst to be, the way I handled the news had a big effect on how I market myself. On January 13, I asked the Beautiful Girl (BG) to marry me. We spent an hour and a half calling her family and mine – that’s how long it took for just immediate family, mind you! – and we were exhausted by the end of it.
Now, I hate talking on the phone. It is a tedious, blind, unnerving exercise. As a writer, I would much prefer it if conversations came with a backspace button.
Instead, I simply changed my status to “engaged” on Facebook and approved an evite to go out for an engagement party to which I had contributed names and contact info of recipients. This would avoid:
- More phone time
- One of those self-congratulatory emails to everyone in my contact book
- Using time and energy I don’t have. (In addition to the engagement, the past couple weeks have been quite full enough with a potential mortgage and closing, finding renters for our current apartment in winter in Chicago, the detail of the move, car trouble, and BG has been sick this week. Isn’t that enough?)
I was attempting an experiment in active communication but passive conversation (and being a wuss about the phone).
What I forgot is that not everyone is like me. From the way they communicate to what they hold important. BG and I have been dating for almost two years and admitted we were planning nuptials at least six months ago, so the actual ring-on-the-finger bit was less climactic to me than perhaps others viewed it.
Plus, many of my friends and family are not online. I am online and/or writing for at least nine hours per day. This has altered the way I prefer to transfer information. But because I was thinking from my own perspective rather than that of my audience, I came off as a jerk. And maybe I am. So, this is the official apology to disappointed friends and family (especially Alexia and Mandy, but all the others too). If I wasn’t writing this at 5am, you would get a personal phone call, but I promise to try once the dust settles here.
One surprise from this experiment was the lovely, organic dialogue that came from several friends who did notice the change on Facebook or read the evite. They were able to contact me at a time of their own choosing in a medium of my choosing (emailing me, writing on my Facebook wall, etc). It was very natural and now I have those messages to keep and reflect on.
So this exercise reminded me to always, always, always consider how your audience will receive a message. I spend so much of my day thinking about how to craft the message that I let down my guard in my personal life regarding the reception.