The telephone. Who uses those these days? Actually, a lot of people do, and recent events have reminded me that I'm not ready to toss this old standby, either. I no longer have a land line, but I do have a cell phone. Most of the people I know have this same setup. My parents still have a land line, but even they use their cell phones a lot.
I tend to avoid using the phone, preferring to stick to email or face-to-face communication for most things. Talking on the phone actually makes me feel very tired. I'm just not a phone talker. Most things can be said by email or instant message or text message. Urgent conversations, I feel, are best had face to face.
A couple of weeks ago, however, my attitude changed. Something major happened with an organization for which I volunteer. We had a situation where things had to happen very quickly, and a lot of communication happened by email or not at all. In the process, details were missed, and people were misunderstood or not heard. As a result, we ended up on a conference call. It was actually a video chat, but the point is it was not email, and it was somewhat face to face. The same week, a lot of phone calls went back and forth. I have not talked on the phone that much since I was a teenager, and yes: It was very tiring.
The thing is, though, that a lot got accomplished via these conversations. I feel we covered more ground than we would have if we had continued communicating via text. We also avoided the issues less.
In the end, I parted ways with this organization, but I was able to do it with positive feelings about the whole thing. Actually speaking to my colleagues, hearing their tone of voice, they hearing mine, made things a lot clearer and made it easier to understand what was happening with everybody.
As time-saving as it may seem to do things via email and text message, I have come to value phone contact once again. It's not always possible to meet face to face to discuss things, but hearing your conversation partner's voice really does make it easier to know what is going on. It is also actually faster to pick up the phone, call someone, and say what needs to be said than it is to shoot an email or text off into the void, where it may not be seen or responded to for days.
If I am having a conversation with someone via text message or email and it drags out beyond a certain point, I tend to end up saying, "Hey. Can I just call you?"
For most communications, I still prefer email or text, but this was a very interesting lesson for me.
Of course, nothing beats a good, old face-to-face over coffee (or whatever one's drink of choice!)
(Image credit: gladcov / 123RF Stock Photo)