OLD SKILL? OR NEW?
August 3, 2016 |
Talking on the phone is time consuming. I get it.
Talking on the phone often creates uncomfortable silences. I get it.
Talking on the phone makes me a prisoner to their timing, not mine. I get it.
Talking on the phone makes me respond immediately without planning what I want to say. I get it.
Compared to texts, I DM, IM, email, tweets, posts and an ever-growing selection of social media, talking on the phone makes me feel vulnerable. I TOTALLY get it.
But here’s the rub. Sooner or later you’re gonna have to talk on the phone. At least if you want to foster a special bond with someone– potential bosses, complex colleagues, lovers, friends (real ones) or anyone important to you. It’s better to be prepared for this skill. And, yes, it is a “skill.” A new one to some younger people and getting rusty for the rest of us.
So how do you become skilled at anything? Of course, you practice. Whether it’s tennis, tai chi, weight lifting or phone talking, the more we do it, the better we get. That doesn’t mean you should drop everything, grab your phone, bring up the keypad and start tapping someone’s number right now. (Although that wouldn’t hurt.) What it does mean however, is that we all should brush up on this archaic skill: Having a real conversation with someone on the phone. (gasp.) It’s not just kids and young adults who need to master this. Everyone is getting out of shape in the phone-talking department.
When you text your friends, you usually just jump into what you want to say. When you run into them in person, it’s easy. Many conversations start with something like this “Hey, great seeing you, how you doin’?” “Pretty good, and you?” “What’s new?” This triteness is absolutely OK in person because you’re both smiling, nodding, moving, etc. But you don’t have that advantage on the phone. owadays, since a phone call is an unusual and often a bothersome time invasion, we need a different modus operandi.
Some hints: It’s probably best to text him or her first with something like, “Hey, we haven’t talked in a while. It would be great to hear your voice. Shall I call you sometime?” You’ll probably get a yes. Then ask what time is most convenient for them.
Now the actual call: As we said, one of the biggest joys of texting is you can do it on your own time schedule. Sadly, not so with phone calls. So always start with something like “Hi, did I catch you at a good time?” Or, “Is this a good time to talk?” (If they sound rushed, plan another time. Or ask them to call you.) BTW, if you sense they’re freaking out because you called instead of texted (and he fears you are going to break up with him or that you are going to tell her she’s fired,) you might tell him/her, “I haven’t heard your voice in a while and thought it would be nice to touch base by phone.” If it’s a stranger you’ve already been digitally communicating with, you could say say, “I thought it’s time we ‘met by phone.”
Umm, a last thought. It’s probably best to not tell them you’re calling just to brush up on your phone conversation skills. 😉