Phone calls. Millennials are allergic to them. I have this conversation Sofa King often that I’m sure each reader who has met me will think I’m talking specifically about you. I’m not. Well, I am. But not only you.
Email is efficient. You can crank out asynchronous thoughts, orders, questions, commands and comments. I email often. I always follow important emails with a call. There is a reason.
Phone calls are effective. You can convey meaning and emotion. You can listen for responses. You can detect how your messages are received and pick up sarcasm, skepticism, anger, frustration, happiness and sorrow. You CANNOT do this on email. Or IM. Or text. Or Twitter. Text is often tone deaf. Mostly when it’s is short form.
Of course in-person is best for true relationship development but that’s not always practical.
A very common experience …
One person emails some thoughts. Another gets angered and responds. The true intent of both is lost and the time makes each person’s anger grow and fester. And anger leads to more email, which ends in a flame war. I have seen this time and again and of course I’m prey to it as well. Yet when you’re confronted with the same person IRL you find that each party is more courteous to the other. Each seeks to understand the other’s perspectives more.
I’ve written before about the dehumanization of other people and their feeling with written words – exacerbated by anonymous apps.
So my appeal to those in confrontational situations is to pick up the phone – even if it makes you uncomfortable. It’s a business skill you must possess. If you want to sell something to somebody – you can’t establish trust, empathy and respect without human contact. And as everybody in sales knows – the mantra is “nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Pick up the phone.
I’ve written about the art of the phone call before but thought I’d include a primer below for those with less experience.
1. Prepare! Write your set of bullet points on paper before the call. Write out the reason you’re calling, your key points and “the ask” in advance and your time allotment so you can always refer back and make sure you’re tracking to your plan.
2. You can start informally with banter – If I’m calling somebody I know a bit I usually try to start with a little friendly banter. If I know they like a sports team that might be a good start. If I saw their company in the press, heard that they saw somebody at an event that I know, they live in a town where a storm just rolled through – whatever. I think trying to humanize the call from the outset is good. When you jump straight into “sales pitch mode” it feels a bit strange.
Two things to watch for: 1) if you’re trying banter to build rapport but not “feeling …