When did people stop making telephone calls?

When did it become alright to communicate via text, email or Slack?

Why did we stop talking to people? Are telephone calls too much work, too intrusive or take too much time?

telephone callWhatever the reason, the pendulum needs to swing back from texting to talking.

This need struck me a couple weeks ago when I received an email from an unhappy client. My work had not met expectations so they sent a rather strident email expressing their displeasure.

I thought about how to respond. Should I send an email back to get a better idea about how to fix the situation? No. Instead, I decided to make a telephone call. If I was going to get my knuckles rapped, it was probably better to face the music directly.

The tone of the conversation was positive and involved constructive guidance. In other words, it was slant than the email. The problem with email is words are often ineffective delivery mechanisms for tone and feelings. When someone reads an email, it is easy to make assumptions or jump to conclusions. It is probably why email can cause situations to blow up because they exist with little emotional substance.

On the other hand, telephone calls cut to the chase. You can hear someone’s voice, get a handle on their feelings and quickly identify the key issues. It’s a conversation, rather than a series of back and forth digital snippets.

The return of the telephone call will be a challenge for many people. We have grown accustomed to easy and quick communication. It takes time and energy to talk on the phone, while a text or email takes no time at all. The growing number of digital communication tools is making us lazy. We operate in communication silos, seemingly afraid to communicate directly.

I’m not suggesting anyone abandon email or texting but maybe we shouldn’t see them as easy alternatives to telephone calls. Maybe people should spend the time to think about conversations that require context, rather than speed and instant replies. There are many situations in which a telephone call saves time, energy and aggravation.

So here are two tips about rediscovering the telephone call:

  1. When you receive a text, update or email, pause before answering. Think about the most effective way to respond. Think about what would make the most impact. Think about what would generate the most immediate results.
  2. These days, telephone calls are novelties because few people make them. In some respects, phone calls go against the grain. As a result, they could deliver an advantage because they are not competing against a tsunami of emails and text messages. It reminds me of how podcasts have come back into style again. The people who re-embraced podcasts have thrived because they stood out in a world dominated by social media and content marketing.

The time has come for Telephone 2.0.

More: The Next Web’s Juan Ruis suggests that telephone calls suck and they’re “relics of the past”. I think he’s off the mark.

Bonus: For people who love music from the 80’s, here’s Blondie singing “Call Me”.

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