Are you normal?

Are you normal? Do you behave in a normal fashion? Do your friends think you are normal? Are you sure?

People from all over the world and all walks of life; every color; race; religion; shoe size and fashion style read this (actually I’m only sure about my mother… maybe not even…). I know that what you consider normal – or what I might consider normal (my sister will swear that by any measure I’m not!) or what they might consider normal – will find a naysayer somewhere in the universe.

And there you have it – none of us are normal!

So what is? How do we judge normal? What is the base-line…?

Truth is that Brian Mitchinson of Blast Radius raised the question and got me thinking. Here is what he asked:

“We are in such a hyper competitive and creative environment that everything is constantly being reinvented. Processes can be tough to maintain. Relationships can change quickly. Sometimes it’s difficult to know where true north is in relationships, best practices, work flow, etc. What’s a normal expectation for an email response? For a request? For all aspects of business today. Its changing so quickly and we’re all so busy that I think the basics are getting lost.”

Let’s start with relationships. I’ve written about this before. At one time friends were cherished personal assets. We counted our real friends on our fingers and everyone else was an acquaintance. BFF was a meaningful acronym and having a best friend was a solemn undertaking.

Today? The generation growing up at present, measures friendship as profiles on Facebook. So while I could count real friends on my digits – today’s kids count them digitally – the more, the better…

Which is normal? For me the latter and for them the former. Although there is indication that more and more emphasis is being put on human contact and interpersonal relationships – more on that another time…

What about answering an e-mail? Letters and memos were once answered thoughtfully (actually I’m ready to argue that point) but really it was the time to post or send a messenger or whatever that caused the lag.

I find it interesting that at one time letters were delivered multiple times a day and in England, for example, there was a well-oiled messenger network and the expectation was that you answered a query immediately.

Not much different than today – except that we are staring at instantaneous opportunity to blunder and make less than sparkling; brilliant comments because we answer instantaneously and many have lost – or never had – the gift of writing a well crafted note.

So what is normal? In this case – seems to me that normal is whatever expectation you have caused to be associated with yourself. I know people who let at least 24 hours go for most answers, and others who answer before they receive the question. However, bottom line, my expectation is based on what I know of their behavior and unlike the Boy Who Cried Wolf – I try not to make every outbound mail of self-inflated and exaggerated importance.

Normal? No different than it ever was – people expect a quick response…the metric is your call…

Requests fall into the same category for me. I know that more and more is demanded of us – but I have to tell you that was true when I started in the business and has never changed. Again, we have created channels that allow for more and we push them – ourselves – as means of achieving speed and efficiency – control the expectation – but the basic dynamic hasn’t changed.

I will leave the rest of Brian’s questions to percolate and ask you to share your normal thinking…but first:

Abnormal is so common, it’s practically normal. ~Cory Doctorow

And there you have it – my point – normal is in a constant state of flux – we have to be open to its constant shifting and not get locked in – after all it was once normal to work as an indentured slave (still is…) and today we have regulated work environments (don’t get me started!)…

So what do you think is normal?

Let’s hear it.

PS – I am happy to take requests for topics – e-mail me.

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