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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Call Me, Tweet Me: If you can’t do it, let someone know

Published: August 31, 2012
Section: Opinions

Last week, my column mentioned several times that I try to be accommodating whenever possible. Part of that includes taking the initiative in being helpful—if I see a way in which I can help someone, there’s a good chance that I’ll offer my assistance. In no way am I trying to say that I’m perfect, nor am I the best thing to happen to the people I know, but if a friend is overly stressed, I’ll go out of my way to try to take something off their plate.

The biggest problem I have found with this system is that I’ve come to realize that sometimes I won’t have time to do everything I need to do or everything that I offered to do. When this happens, I do something else that is so helpful that it seems like it should be common sense: I tell the friend that I’m not going to be able to do what I said I would.

The situation went as follows: I was waiting on Tuesday for my furniture to be delivered and assembled by IKEA. They said it would be delivered between 2 and 6 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., when they had not arrived, I called IKEA and left a message after being put on hold. I explained the situation, asking them to call me back in order to reschedule. At 8:30 p.m., I went to a friend’s birthday/going away party. Just 15 minutes later, I got a call from my new friend at IKEA, letting me know that he was just a few minutes away and would arrive shortly.

I don’t know enough about their process to know who was at fault, but my new friend and his coworkers were lovely and extremely apologetic, promising to hurry when they realized I had plans. From what I understood, they were simply scheduled for too many deliveries that day and ran extremely late. OK, I understand.

What IKEA did wasn’t malicious and I doubt that they consciously made a decision not to deliver my furniture or call me back. There needs to be, however, a better system in place. It’s a matter of personal and professional responsibility, and when you’re doing it in a business setting, good or bad communication can influence your customer relations.

In his inaugural address, President Lawrence explained that a liberal arts education was one of the best types of education, saying, “a true liberal arts education is the most practical education there is.” I agree completely. While I’ve certainly sat in class and wondered how learning about a honeybee’s waggle dance is ever going to be relevant, I know that I am in the right place at the right time.

He explained his opinion by listing various skills that we as Brandeisians learn that wouldn’t necessarily be taught if we were getting a trade-specific degree. Among them he included critical analysis and my personal favorite, the ability to communicate.

This column, “Call Me, Tweet Me,” was originally intended to be about communication, and I’ve somewhat strayed from my roots. Being a skilled communicator is an art, but being able to communicate competently enough that you don’t alienate people is not difficult.

Good communication and personal responsibility are traits that are hard to relay in a resume, but they will get you the furthest in life.