The Bitch Slap: Pick Up the Phone, Would Ya?

Not really what I intended to write on today, but to hell with it. It’s relevant.

Stop emailing and pick up the goddamn phone, would ya?

As someone who lives and breathes in a digital world, it’s entirely too easy for me to sit down and tap-out a response when someone sends me an electronic ping. Text messages, emails – doesn’t matter. If I can type it, I can send it. And half the time I should be picking up the phone instead.

How much gets misinterpreted and poorly conveyed when you decide to respond to emails on the go or at 3 AM when you can’t sleep? Not everyone’s a writer and bril with the Webster’s action – and even if you are, there’s still the potential for something to get lost in translation when you opt to type instead of speak.

We’ve begun using email as a crutch. Opportunistic – we can do it at anytime and get things off our plate and put the ball in someone else’s court. When you think about it, it’s a half-shitty notion: I’m clearing my plate and dumping the contents in your lap. Yes, I know it’s 3 AM. Suck it.

Nice.

While digital communication has its place, the next time you’re faced with:

Option A: Hammering-out a conflict-laden response to an email or text

or

Option B: Dialing some digits

…perhaps you’ll opt for Option B.

For what it’s worth, I sent an email this morning to a new client in response to a minor issue, telling him to call me. Yes, I see the overwhelming FAIL in that whole scenario. It really wouldn’t have killed me to wait two hours and pick up the phone. But apparently I needed my plate clear then and there. Two hours…God forbid I have to wait such an extended time to have a real-time conversation about something that’s already spanned five emails at odd hours.

It’s funny, isn’t it? The fact that a five or ten minute phone call can erase hours of brooding over potentially misinterpreted words pounded out on a keyboard of indeterminate size. And yes, this also applies to those folk who think it’s A-freakin’-OK to stalk someone over text message. Pick up the phone, give someone a call and quit trying to avoid human interaction that makes relationships on any level work: friendship, business, lovers, dogs and cats.

Dogs don’t text message.They seem to get along just fine.

Tail wag: happy

Pouty face: tired/sad

Pee on carpet/eat couch: pissed.

Simple.

23 comments
abqandrea
abqandrea

One of my favorite ways to launch forward progress in pretty much any part of life that seems stagnant or besieged by procrastination is this, "MAKE THE PHONE CALL." Seriously, if I made one phone call per day on my ongoing projects the return would be freakin' amazing. So there. That's my resolution. One phone call per day.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Now THAT'S an angle I hadn't thought of :) Thanks, Laura!

Laura Gajewski
Laura Gajewski

The phone call or face-to-face meeting would really cut down on office politics. imagine if your boss or co-workers couldn't send you the 'professional' yet snarky email telling you what you're asking of them isn't their job...

The Redhead
The Redhead

Now THAT'S an angle I hadn't thought of :) Thanks, Laura!

Laura Gajewski
Laura Gajewski

The phone call or face-to-face meeting would really cut down on office politics. imagine if your boss or co-workers couldn't send you the 'professional' yet snarky email telling you what you're asking of them isn't their job...

The Redhead
The Redhead

Amen. Step away from the "reply" button and no one gets hurt :)

wagnerwrites
wagnerwrites

I'm late to the party but I laughed out loud when I saw the title of this blog. Years ago a fellow freelancer was lamenting to me about the lack of a good (and free) email management program for the Mac - he was an open source, anti-Microsoft kinda guy. I just looked at him and said, "Dude, it's called the phone. Just pick up the phone more often and you'll reduce the inbox clutter."

Shiva
Shiva

Wait a minute here Redhead. Wont I have to be myself on the phyne when I could be an avatar or something and remain speechless?

ShellyKramer
ShellyKramer

I hate talking on the phone, Erika, but it is a necessary "evil." I do like to follow up phone conversations with an email, though, just so that we have a documented record of the convo. I find that quite useful.I think we are lazy. Sometimes it's easier to hide behind a cell phone or a computer screen than it is to just have a real conversation with people - and we are all often in search of the easy button. If we are honest with ourselves, that is.Thanks for the reminder. I might even call it a wake up call. And I needed it. We all do.@shellykramer

Mike Stenger
Mike Stenger

Sometimes it just makes more sense to hop on the phone. A lot of times I'll also be IM'ing with people on Skype and just hop on to do a voice chat. It's so much easier, for me at least, to talk with the other person via voice or the phone or whatever device you speak through, than it is to just type at times.

robert
robert

@ Red - Absolutely nothing wrong with talking on the phone. I've been waiting for your call for months. I can't wait to get added to that body count of yours!

Kristen Race, Ph.D.
Kristen Race, Ph.D.

I have to agree with The Redhead on this one. I recently read an interesting statistic that 70-90% of communication is nonverbal. Granted the phone doesn't completely solve that problem (I think the face to face communication is best, but not always possible), but at least on the phone you can pick up on intonations, sarcasm, and tone in a way our brain is used to processing. I also think that people get brave, or turn into bullies, when they can sit safely behind their screen and send rude comments off with the click of a button. They don't have to worry about a quick response, or acknowledge a response at all. I call it "blackberry balls" Great topic, call me if you want to talk more about it!

Andrea Patrick
Andrea Patrick

OMG!! you are a girl after my own heart. I would much rather say it over the phone. I prefer phone for business and personal. I have had trouble getting things accomplished waiting for someone to decide to answer an Email. More times than not, if they would just pick up the phone, the problem, issue could be solved in five minutes.

Tyler Adams
Tyler Adams

You make a very good point. There are many times when I can recall discussing something over the phone but then have no written record of it to pull up in the future. This can be very problematic (and annoying) when dealing in business.

Sarah Camp
Sarah Camp

Sometimes I do make the mistake of checking my email right before bed... That's not good, either. I don't respond, but it doesn't always help to put me in a calm state before bed. :)

Sarah Camp
Sarah Camp

I do offer the option - and of course there are always cases where a phone communication may be better. However, it normally works out better for me to communicate via email. Even aside from my own personal issues, it is also hugely advantageous to have everything in writing when dealing with Business affairs. Just about every time I have discussed something over the phone with a client, things are forgotten or misunderstood. If I have that written email, I can refer to it.

Sarah Camp
Sarah Camp

I do offer the option - and of course there are always cases where a phone communication may be better. However, it normally works out better for me to communicate via email. Even aside from my own personal issues, it is also hugely advantageous to have everything in writing when dealing with Business affairs. Just about every time I have discussed something over the phone with a client, things are forgotten or misunderstood. If I have that written email, I can refer to it.I do offer the option - and of course there are always cases where a phone communication may be better. However, it normally works out better for me to communicate via email. Even aside from my own personal issues, it is also hugely advantageous to have everything in writing when dealing with Business affairs. Just about every time I have discussed something over the phone with a client, things are forgotten or misunderstood. If I have that written email, I can refer to it.

The Redhead
The Redhead

We used to only have the phone or in-person communication. Or a letter via snail mail. What's so damn wrong about talking to people these days? Hmph!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Sarah - I totally understand your frustration. We all have places where we excel. I need to take a note from you to NOT answer emails at 3AM, however. #notetoself :)

Tyler Adams
Tyler Adams

Don't you think though that you might be more efficient on the phone? Or that it might be advantageous for you to develop stronger skills in this regard? I have no doubt of your ability to communicate via email, but just because you haven't received any complaints (and have received compliments) doesn't mean that you might be able to communicate "better" sometimes over the phone. Having the option couldn't hurt, at least. I'm sure there are books, blogs, seminars, etc that could help you to get over your shy, hesitantness on the phone.

Tyler Adams
Tyler Adams

@Robert, I agree. Written communications can be especially problematic for someone {like me} who is fairly sarcastic. I started using :) to convey sarcasm or that I wasn't being serious but this of course throws any type of "professionalism" out of the window. Granted, I prefer my professional relationships to be more personal anyway so I guess it works out. I hate, hate, lol's though. No sarcasm there. This post is spot on though. Pick up the phone every now and then. It saves time, you make more of a connection, and you are better understood.

robert
robert

The trouble with email, whether it is for personal or business communication is that it is difficult to express emotion, whether it is sincerity, or utter confusion. When dealing with non-native English speakers, the situation only gets worse. It is very easy to mis-represent the writers intentions and then the sparks can fly if you're a hot head like me. When it is important, and you need clarity, I always pick up the phone.

Sarah Camp
Sarah Camp

I prefer phones when talking to friends or family, but for business, I always prefer email. The problem is that I am not very eloquent over the phone. I know my sh*t, but you wouldn't always know it when talking to me on the phone - I'm shy, I'm hesitant, I hate my voice so that affects my confidence. I have gotten many complements, however, on my ability to explain things via email. I receive very few complaints about communicating via email, and I can put email away (whereas phone interrupts my creative process, among other things). So where I agree with you about most things, for me, I can't agree with you about business communications. Would it be nice if I had someone who COULD deal with people over the phone? Sure. Is it my number one priority? No. Things are working just fine the way they are. For other business models, yes, of course a phone call may be the best mode of communication. Of course, I don't answer business emails at 3 in the morning - I only answer them during my business hours. :)Also, I definitely agree with you about the text message thing. My husband and I get so irritated with friends who are afraid to talk on the phone, but will send 50 text messages to get something answered, which could have been taken care of with a 2 minute phone call. I don't enjoy talking on the phone, but I'm not going to waste people's time with texts back and forth. Especially since not every cell phone is created equal, and for some people, texting is extremely difficult and time consuming. It's just rude!

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