Pick Up the Damn Phone! Why We Must Get Back to Conversation

Pick up the phonePicking up the phone is a slowly dying practice.

It’s scary that so many, especially among us Millennials, are dead-set against dialing up coworkers or taking calls, seemingly to avoid personal – human – interaction.

Does anyone remember a time when the only thing you could do with a phone… was communicate?

Email, texting and DMs obviously have their merits, but they are not the only, or best, form of communication. Seriously, stop hiding behind your keyboard or device… and pick up the damn phone!

We Skim Emails (But Listen to Voicemails)

When your email inbox is already pushing maximum capacity and you receive a new message longer than The Odyssey, you’re probably not going to read it all (or at all).

People listen to complete voicemails, though. Every time.

You could get a voicemail from someone trying to sell you a used car with no engine or steering wheel and you’d probably listen to the whole thing. It’s easy to reread a deleted email before you trash it, but retrieving a deleted voicemail isn’t always so simple. As such, we tend to listen to entire voicemails before deleting them to make sure we didn’t miss anything important.

Plus, it is common knowledge that voicemail systems limit the length of the message that can be delivered. This gives the sender an incentive to get right to the point. Email strings, on the other hand, can date back months or years and give you carpal tunnel syndrome from excessive scrolling.

Phone Calls Offer Clues Lost in Written Communication

Not everyone is a good writer and even those who are may not be very detail-oriented. Even when all of the nitty-gritty information is included in an email, there’s a lot that can be lost in translation. Texting and DMs may be instant delivery, but do you get to say everything?

Maybe the email or text clearly states that a project is due next week. What’s not included, however, is that the boss really wants it completed sooner than that. Not because it can’t be communicated, but because that fact isn’t easily articulated in writing.

Now, imagine how that same discussion might go on the phone:


Larry: This is Larry.
Gary: Hey Larry, it’s Gary. Say, you think you’ll be done with that presentation soon?

Larry: I’m kinda buried over here. When do you need it by?
Gary: My schedule says President Jackson needs it in his hands by next Wednesday.

Larry: That’s doable.
Gary: <Awkward pause>

Larry: Okay. Was that all? Something else we need to add?
Gary: Well, it sounds like there’s gonna be some late-breaking news that he’ll want to mesh into it, so it would be great if I could get it from you by Monday.

Larry: OK – understood. I’ll get it to you before then.
Gary:  Thanks, Chief. Talk to you soon.

It’s much easier to pick up urgencies or concerns from verbal cues, like that awkward pause, in a phone call than through a digitally delivered message, where we take every word literally and as a complete communication.

Phone Calls Build Relationships

While in-person meetings are the best way to get to know a business counterpart, they’re not always possible when you work as part of a global or national team. You can still build personal rapport with someone over the phone, via Skype or a Google Hangout though… far better than you can through email, texting or social media.

No amount or special combination of emoticons will take your relationships to the next level!

Phone Calls Close Big Sales (Emails Lose Them)

Do you think those on Wall Street negotiate million dollar deals by texting or emailing their prospects? No, they pick up the phone to get to know the person they want to cut them a huge check.

Phoning potential customers reduces their uncertainty about who you are – and the business you represent. Placing too much emphasis on email costs companies money through lost sales (as it has for Metro Guide Publishing).

If you rely on digital delivery for your communications, you’re limiting yourself and your career. Pick up the phone. Let people hear your voice, inflection and tone to give them a more concrete impression of the real you. From there, build relationships… and trust.

Who knows… the experience might even be enjoyable.





Seth CarrAbout the Author: Seth Carr is a freelance writer and Millennial advocate. Keep an eye out for his first ebook, “Post-College Knowledge: How to Not Suck at Your First Real Job”. Follow Seth on Twitter!


Image courtesy of memegenerator.net… thank you!



This entry was posted in Career Advice and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.