Communication in Our Time

August 27, 2021
Myer Lipschitz

This week’s blog isn’t about immigration and it’s not about Covid. Whilst I’m never tired of immigration related news pertaining to Australia and New Zealand I am sick and tired of writing and reading about Covid, lockdowns, vaccination rates et cetera which seems to dominate the news in Australia.

As far as immigration related news is concerned, we are also in a bit of a hiatus, waiting on details relating to the New Zealand Skilled Migrant Category (expected shortly) and the State Governments in Australia to commence sponsoring applicants based overseas (expected when Australia opens its borders when we reach 70/80% vaccination rate). But I digress, this blog is not about Covid nor immigration.

Please indulge me, it’s rather a whimsical take on how changes in forms (or the medium) of communication have shaped behavioural conventions of society.

I spend a considerable amount of my day preparing free preliminary assessment reports to people who complete our questionnaire on our website

The report essentially summarises your options pertaining to obtaining residence in both Australia and New Zealand and advises you whether it is worth your while spending AU$350 in having a detailed 90 minute Zoom/Teams consultation with me or one of our registered/licensed migration agents. I not only consider the information in the completed questionnaire but CVs as well and prepare a preliminary report which essentially provides my conclusions.

The benefit of the report is that you have a considered opinion by someone with more than 30 years of experience in the industry and can proceed to pay AU$350 in the certainty that the consultation will be of benefit to you.

There is a benefit from our perspective in that we get to screen those people who want to have consultations with us as the AU$350 doesn’t fully compensate us from a financial return on the time we spend in a consultation and the subsequent email correspondence we exchange with those people who have consultations with us.

We receive anything from 20 to 60 questionnaires on any given day (depending on what crisis is unfolding on the world stage).

Of those preliminary reports I don’t think that I receive an acknowledgement from even 8%. There is no obligation to proceed with having a consultation but I was surprised at the relatively low response rate to something that is obviously important to people otherwise they wouldn’t spend up to 20 minutes completing a questionnaire. I understand that people may not want to proceed in having a consultation but I don’t understand the lack of response.

When I mentioned this to my business partner he told me that I needed a holiday 🙂 and that is true. It’s been a long year with a lot of it spent in lockdown in Melbourne but upon reflection it could be a number of reasons for this which could be an interesting social commentary.

I’m not about to bemoan the fact that the youth have no manners :-), that would make me sound like a crotchety old man and even though respected figures such as Socrates came to this conclusion I am far too hip and cool to do that. The fact that I have used the term “hip” probably negates this defence but there are as many middle aged people that complete the questionnaire as there are youngsters so the lack of response cannot be attributed to a generational perspective.

I understand that sometimes English isn’t first language of those people completing the questionnaire however most visa categories for Australia would require applicants to have a certain level of English-language ability and my report is written at a commensurate level.

The report is approximately 700 words and I wouldn’t have thought that this is beyond the average attention span although I do acknowledge that reality TV has made vegetables of many of us. I would hate to have to convey my assessment report through emoticons.

I was introduced to the writing of the Canadian communication theorist, Marshall McLuhan by a friend of mine who is a psychologist who writes on the fact that the medium of the message that shaped and controlled “the scale and form of human association and action”. In other words people behave in different ways depending upon the medium of communication. Some styles of communication have become acceptable in certain forms of interaction that wouldn’t be acceptable in others.

The style of communication would be different for people communicating face-to-face or through the phone or whilst driving cars or “shock jocks” communicating with listeners on radio and perhaps I need to accept the anonymity of the Internet and electronic forms of communication.

Perhaps in order to facilitate communication my preliminary report should contain a drop-down menu with the following choices:

1. Thank you for the report and the time you have obviously spent drafting it, I would like to go ahead with a consultation.

2. Thank you for the report and the time you’ve obviously spent drafting it, I don’t want to go ahead with the consultation but will retain your contact details for another time.

3. Thank you for the report and the time you’ve obviously spent drafting it, I don’t want to go ahead with the consultation.

4. Thank you for the report and the time you’ve obviously spent drafting it, but I am suspicious of committing to make payments on the Internet.

5. Que?

I would personally find that a sad commentary if people can only communicate through predetermined set messages because that implies that the audience isn’t capable of formulating their own cognitive thoughts but I do realise that attention economics is at play because we live in a society where there is an abundance of content and it is human attention that is the scarce commodity.

So if anyone requests an assessment report by completing a questionnaire on the following link of our website and the response you receive is a thumbs up emoticon, smiley face, tragic face or a “wishy washy” hand gesture please don’t think that I have taken acid, it’s just that I am adapting my style of communication to the time.

This blog has been typed by the writer with a large Smiley face.

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