Call me old-fashioned or simply old, but I have recently learned the phone can be an important tool to getting your needs met in life. However, it takes balls to use the phone for its actual purpose of making a call; the phone makes us often feel vulnerable and needy. It’s true if you think about it but isn’t that ridiculous?
It’s mostly a control thing. When you are speaking to someone, you can’t be sure exactly of what you are going to say or for that matter, hear back. And what if you burp or something? You just can’t predict what will happen in the same way when exchanging the written word. But that’s when the magic happens. People connect more powerfully through a shared experience. Phone calls happen in real time. People inspire each other directly in real time. And lol doesn’t begin to compare to the satisfaction of a spontaneous audio explosion of laughter
Recently I was starting a new project with two other people. We didn’t know each other that well and we were trying to settle in to our roles and responsibilities which weren’t all that clear-cut. After one particular go round of e-mails, I was feeling uncomfortable and imagining one of the other colleagues fervently cursing me out. And then I thought, I’ll just call her and see what’s up. The call was positive and totally straightened everything out very simply without drama. I also understood her working style so much better and we bonded on the call.
After that, I realized I was actually making my life less efficient by avoiding the phone and am now a much more avid user of it. So I’ve compiled a list of situations where it’s better to actually talk to someone on the phone (if you can’t see them face to face, of course). Yes, actually talk to someone on the phone. I know that sounds scary. And no, you don’t have to give me your number if you don’t want to.
Hint: For extra courage, have an answering machine message in mind to leave in case the person doesn’t answer.
#1 Inviting someone initially to make plans or a date
This is probably the hardest call to make. It’s also the biggest phone communication-based complaint of women dating men. If it’s someone that you want to hang with and don’t know that well (yes, like a date), this is the number one classiest way to ask them out. Yes, I know you’re still not going to do it, but you should at least know what the right thing to do is.
#2 If you are feeling awkward about a current text/email exchange
Is there something that you can’t quite figure out what they meant and continues to bug you? Text/email suggesting you talk and what’s a good time to call? Usually when you’re feeling uncomfortable, the other person is feeling that way too and will be forever grateful for you for clearing up whatever it is.
Arguing through the written word is a big no-no that’s ripe for misunderstanding. And why would you want to create written souvenirs of your anger that can be referred back to or available to be memorized? A phone call for managing a conflict is always the high road. Reading what someone is thinking in the middle of a heated exchange is going to likely make things sound worse. Plus, if you want to make a sincere apology, voice is the way to go.
#4 If you suspect someone is in bad shape emotionally or physically
If you really need to get a read on how someone’s doing while letting them know you care about them . . . .
#5 Someone calls you and leaves a message
If you respond to a call with email/text, you are downgrading the communication response. Of course, this can also be a good thing, say, with a bill collector.
#6 When you need to get something done immediately
Here’s a good rule of thumb on how to manage work communications protocol from BusinessInsider.com
#7 A last ditch effort when you get no response any other way
Whether it’s a job or a date, if you’ve tried email and you are still left wondering WTF, the only cure for this might be a phone call. Have your v-message ready to leave and be convinced that this will be closure for you whether they pick up or not. There have been some surprising outcomes from this method! I actually got an interview this way once.
#8 Any sort of brainstorming
If you have an idea, there’s no better way to get feedback or expansion than talking. Before you send your proposal, think about calling someone you trust or admire to get their thoughts. Talking is more like an in-the-moment volley than writing and can inspire new thoughts much more readily.
#9 To get closer to someone, no matter who it is
You just can’t share a laugh without the voice part. If you just want to get to know someone better for any reason, try this experiment: the next time you are thinking of writing an email, call them instead. You’re welcome! Of course you have to know them well enough first. Trying signing your emails with your phone number added. It’s a lot easier to ask for someone else’s number that way.
#10 Delivering seriously bad news
Firing someone, telling your mother that you got fired, breaking up, an accident, the closing of you and your friend’s favorite bar should all be related through voice. This kind of thing seems obvious to me, but I can’t take a chance here that you don’t know this. If you’re concerned how someone is going to react to what you have to say, man up and make the call. Otherwise, you may wind up with a long-term bad case of the guilties. Sorry, not my rules, it’s just human nature.
Do you have any good stories re: voice vs. text/email? Send them to me at lisa.levy0511ATgmail.com Your response will remain confidential.