By: Hillel Fuld (@Hilzfuld)
If you ever want to send someone a post of mine to prove to them that I’m condescending and conceited, this is your post.
If you are not a hater, try to actually think about what I’m saying here and understand that it doesn’t come from a place of ego, but rather, a desire for efficiency and productivity.
Glad we got that out of the way.
Phone calls. Why? That is the question. Why do people still call people? Here, before I dive into why phone calls are annoying, inefficient and actually inconsiderate, watch what Garyvee and hundreds of other professionals think about phone calls.
The Nature of Work in 2017
First of all, who does not multitask today? Who does not read the news while checking Twitter, making dinner, and sending an email simultaneously? That is the nature of work, for better or worse. You don’t like it? I bet you were one of those people who said one or all of the following statements:
- “A mobile phone? Why do I want people to be able to reach me all the time?”
- “Facebook? Why? What do I need it for?”
- “Put my credit card in a website? What am I? Insane?”
Admit it. You don’t like change. To make you feel better, none of us do, some just like it less than others. We all multitask today and that is ok. It does not mean that we don’t do anything well because we are busy doing so many things at once. We have been conditioned to get many things done at once. It is the way of the world today.
So when you text me (and that includes all forms of messaging), I can respond and continue to do what I was doing. I can read your message, continue to work, respond to your message, and never have to be interrupted or lose my train of thought.
A phone call? Not so much. I have to stop what I am doing, answer the call, focus all my attention on that, and totally exit the zone I was in. Lately, I have been using Airpods to take calls so I can continue to do work while on the call, but let’s be honest, our multitasking has its limits and talking about one thing, while typing about another means you really are not focused on either one.
Our Biggest Asset
Time. When you call me, you steal it. Message me and I will respond, as Gary says above, on MY time, when I am ready and feel I can give your question the attention it deserves. Call me and I have to answer on YOUR time. Think about it. Would you walk over to someone on the street on their way to work and physically pull them into your office because you need some business advice or an intro?
No, right? Why not? Well, because you would be arrested for assault but also because that is not normal behavior. They have their time management and their priorities, and you have yours. Don’t confuse them. Same is true with phone calls. I have my time management and you have yours. You think your question/request requires a phone conversation? Email the person and schedule a call. That way, both your schedules are taken into account. See how that works?
Awkward Behavior, Let’s Discuss
I will say right now, the following few sentences are not true for all industries and all people. They are, however, very true for me. Why do I say “Very”? Because I am not angered easily and even when I am, I rarely express that to people with whom I am angered. I try to avoid confrontation, that is my personality. Having said that, when someone I do not know, who has never previously communicated with me, and to whom I did not give my phone number (especially my home number!) calls me, I tend to get seriously upset.
Please watch. Like you absolutely must watch!
How is that ok? Again, I fully realize that some people reading this will think I am nuts, but to me, it is pretty black and white. Yes, my number is available online if you look for it, my mobile phone number is even in my signature. Why? Because when that very specific scenario presents itself and a phone call is in order, I want people to be able to call me. Does that mean that if you want to meet and talk about your startup, that you should just pick up the phone, call me, make me stop what I am doing and have that awkward conversation asking you to email me so we can schedule a call? Abso-freakin-lutely not. Just please don’t!
One More Thing, Don’t be that Guy
So we addressed why phone calls are inefficient, why they’re annoying, but perhaps, most importantly, here is why they are inconsiderate. If you email me asking me, for example, which type of opera is the most popular, I can choose to respond that I have absolutely no idea since I know close to nothing about opera, or if I want, I can choose to ignore the email.
If you call me asking me the same question, well, I am now stuck on a call that is both a waste of my time and more importantly, of zero value to either side. Now I need to be the bad guy and say, in nicer words hopefully, “Leave me alone, this has nothing to do with me and I have no idea why you thought it did.”
You literally just forced me into a super awkward situation I did not choose and did not ask for. And I have no easy way out without being a schmuck. Not ok.
Before I end this post, I just want to say one more thing. I already talked about intros, how to make them, and how to ask for them. Here is the thing. Making an intro requires context on both sides. If you make an intro to someone and don’t tell me and that person why you made that intro, things can get super awkward super fast.
“What are we talking about here?”
“I thought you knew…”
Awkward, but when that awkwardness is over email, you move on fast. A phone call with no context? That thought can literally make me squirm. So, emailing in advance to set up a call also provides the opportunity to give context to the call. Why are we speaking? What are we speaking about? And perhaps most importantly, 9 out of 10 times, by emailing first, you both realize that a phone call (or a meeting) is actually not necessary and your request/question can be addressed in a few emails back and forth.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on meeting etiquette. To sum it all up, it all comes down to mindset. Like I wrote about communication in general, instead of thinking of your own needs, think of the needs of the other person. That way, you will avoid inefficiencies and increase the positive results you were after in the first place!