When, exactly, did we stop knowing how to use the telephone in the workplace?
I find myself freezing when I feel the need to call someone. I ask myself, “Should I just call this person out of the blue? Wouldn’t that be rude?”
Keep in mind I ask myself these questions even when it’s someone with whom I have been corresponding by e-mail. I just get this sense that the person on the other end of the line won’t appreciate a phone call without fair warning.
And so I e-mail the person first and ask when it might be a good time to speak by phone. It’s no surprise that people always appreciate this courtesy. Which is really, really strange. It wasn’t so long ago—or was it?—that we picked up the phone when it rang and called people when we damn well pleased. We don’t have phone conversations anymore—we have one-on-one, scheduled phone meetings.
The reality is so much more information gets exchanged in a phone conversation and, not incidentally, emotional nuances are more easily comprehended. If we must schedule our phone conversations now, so be it. But professional communicators are missing out on a powerful medium if they restrict themselves to the tapping of keyboards and mobile devices. Just remember to e-mail that blogger, journalist or client before placing your call.