I’ve been working for half a year at a local bulk food store. Gleaming white tubs with streak-free lids (important to use the triple cloth wipe method), the store has a fresh, city vibe for a country town. Many tourists recognise the franchise and the locals resent the franchise because it is synonymous with big business. It’s been an interesting journey since it opened, sometimes a flutter with people and other times, yawningly quiet.
The afternoon before my usual shifts, I get a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ message. It’s never jolly being let go from a job you like, but the method feels pretty brutal in its ‘I regret to inform you…effective immediately’ formality. I imagine what a teen being blindsided on the dating scene must feel like with raging hormones. I’d come to know my boss who is of a similar age and ethos quite well, and it came as a shock. I can accept he had his reasons if only I’d got to hear them. Small business is hard, and having an employee who’s the best fit is important. But no warning or conversation felt like a face slap.
My instinct was to recover and go in and speak to the boss. He looked awkward. He was unsure if I had got his text and was instead turning up for work, apron in hand. He was smiling and shuffling feet keeping up a look of normalcy in front of the customer lurking over the dried fruit. I spot the squeaky clean doors and resist the temptation to blowfish on them.
‘I can accept you have your reasons. But does ‘my lack of contribution over the last few months to the business‘ have something to do with not spending more of my wages in the store?’, I said.
He responds with an emphatic ‘No’ (by law, you can’t be fired on those grounds).
‘Well, it was open to interpretation receiving this in a text’, I say.
It is said that a mere 7% of content is communicated through this heavily used method. The remaining 93% is conveyed through body language (58%); and vocal tone, pitch and emphasis (35%) according to UCLA Professor Albert Mehrabian. Texting has become a rouse for the old phone call and misunderstanding potential is huge.
I say my peace and realise I’m not going to get anything more from the conversation or the relationship. I walk out and spot a friend’s car and sit in the sunshine by it. I call her to ask if she could sit with me for a minute. She’s coming out of the supermarket. I share and she soothes my nerves. Within minutes, I feel back in my body. I’m proud of myself for getting the closure that I needed.
The allure of texting is everywhere and is useful for dates, times, facts and quick liners. It’s not too hard to misconstrue a gif of puppy dog doing a lap dance…or is it? However, relationships are tricky enough without using them for the big guns. We can never know what another is thinking or how they will respond, that’s why in person or over the phone relays so much more, ie. 93%. People can feel heard and understood. It builds relationships even if the news we have to share may not be positive.
What’s in store for me now? It’s tap, tap back on the job hunt, I’m eager to create the next page. What are your thoughts on the whole text/call thing? Anyone had a similar experience via the ol’ text?