Saturday 9 April 2011 - To keep in touch
After fours years in Australia, I realized that a lot of my friends are returned expats or people who have travelled and are more tolerant toward the lack of news. You know, the kind of people who welcomes you as nothing has changed and don't hold against you any resentment because you didn't take the time to call or write. I would like also to mention that the time difference with Australia (8h in French summer hours and 10h in French winter hours) and the distance(17,000 km and 24h of flight) doesn't really help, but I found that people expect the ones who are gone to keep in touch and not the other way around. I've been doing the work since I left and I know it is mainly a one way road, a bit like networking when you look at it. At the beginning, you get 10% on return, but once you start to get used to it, you can reach 40%, but clearly you can't expect every friend you have, to keep in touch as readily as you do (or not)
Below the different type of people I've encountered:
- The needy : You would need to chase on a very regular basis (ex. an e-mail nearly everyday in the first week of your departure, then every week or two a phone call or e-mail) otherwise if don't do it, you lose the friendship and they withdraw themselves. And you are the one who should do the work since you are the one who left. They could tell you haven't taken any news when they needed you (Why didn't you contact me, then ?), and even if you do apologize and understand the damages, there is no possible redemption. Was I given a notice period note when I wasn't keeping my KPIs?
- The Facebook keeper : Keeps in touch by poking, updating his/her status, tagging pictures where you are not and complains you haven't read or watched the last important stuff on his/her profile. I tend to call them either lazy or narcissic. Either they believe they are on a special filter in the News feed of their FB friends (generally these people have more than 150 friends who themselves have more than 150 other friends... I let you do the maths), either they think the value of a FB status is as worthy than an mail sent to list of selected friends (even if you consider you have 30 best friends)
- The on-site one : Doesn't keep in touch. It is not personal. He/She doesn't do it, it is too much of an effort. But if you are the same city, he/she would always manage to get some quality time, will offer you to stay over and have diner, introduce you to places and friends and make you feel at home even if you weren't that close when you knew each other back in the same city. Quite a regular specimen when you are overseas.
- The old schoold : More and more rare. Still writes manual Season greetings on his/her own (different from answering a manual card by another manual card). I have to say, I always appreciate a letter sent from overseas. Not good for the carbon foot print, though... But I still write my thirthy manual greeting cards... Oooops, you didn't receive yours ?
- The writer : If some don't write letter, some other get the time to write you and a selected batch of recipients to write extensive e-mails worth a least one page in police 10 arial Narrow once every month or two. It is quite an effort because they try to detail their experience. It is always a challenge how to find the balance between the detailed enough and the too much detailed. Either way, I always appreciate the effort and read everything and reply. Otherwise, people start to believe notbody has read it
- The blogger : This one is quite ironic. You start to write a blog for your family and friends and out of nowhere some complete strangers start also to read your blog (How? I never really knew since I am not referenced to any sort of official listings). After several months, most of your friends don't read it, they don't even unsubscribe your newsletter out of politeness and you start to make friends out of your blog. The funny thing is that a travel blog starts to be interesting after a year, when you are out of the tourist zone and when you start to think like a local. But that's when your intented target has already gone fed up with your blog. I would like to mention that it is my case and I know other bloggers don't have that issue (ex: they put a password on their blog, so they are sure only their family and friends can access it OR they know how to keep a crowd entertained).
- The caller : Don't write to him/her, don't even text him/her, just call him/her. That's the best way to keep in touch. Skype and messenger don't apply, because it can involve planning...
- The chatter : He/She is having a hard time calling/writing/e-mailing in a reasonable timeframe but he/she can easily be chatting to you half an hour or more when they see you online on Yahoo/MSN/Google/Facebook messenger. Of couse, it doesn´t mean they gonna chat you up every time they see you and it doesn´t mean they will answer to you every time you talk to them but if you want to keep in touch with that them, your only hope is to stay online all the time and wait...
- The frequent traveller : This one is harder, because you need the time and money to travel everywhere, unless your job requires you to. Interestingly enough, people don't appreciate the visit the same way when visitors are on business trips or dedicated vacations. Either way, you still need to select the people you want to see, especially on a short business trip.
- The circumstancial friend : This one is understood as not being necessary to keep in touch (but you do add it on your LinkedIn). It is a mutual agreement that you were friends because you were in the same place at the same time, and nothing more.
If there are other profiles, do not hesitate to leave a comment. Cheers