Phone Calls—They’re Not as Great as You Think

In this era of endless chatter—SMS, iMessage, Slack, Roger, email, Snapchat, GChat, Instagram…oh, how this list could go on—there’s one common form of communication that needs to be put on the back burner.

And that mode of communication (as you probably predicted from the title) is talking on the phone.

It’s not that talking on the phone needs to be retired completely, but people need to realize talking on the phone is not this wonderfully efficient means of communication, especially when it comes to business.

In fact, there are many, MANY times when talking on the phone is incredibly inefficient.

Just think of all the variables that could inhibit a clean phone call…

  • Conflicting schedules
  • Different time zones
  • Bad cell service
  • Lousy acoustics (ever tried having a phone call in a Manhattan Starrbucks at 8AM?—you’ll be better off at a firing range)

And those are just a few of the interruptions and obstacles that are encountered with surprising frequency.

Yet everyday entrepreneurs and busy professionals find themselves subjected to the same antiquated request:

Hey, let’s jump on a call.

Why? What’s so wonderful about the phone call? What makes it so pervasive and popular?

I’m guessing here, but it probably has to do with the fact a phone call is the most familiar form of communication in modern business.

The problem though is this:

Just because something is the most familiar doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient.

In the 1950s, taking a train across the country to visit family would have been far more familiar to the average American than taking a transcontinental flight, but that didn’t make the train more efficient than the airplane.

(No, it’s not an apples to apples comparison, but it’s not apples to oranges either…More like apples to pears.)

The point is, people need to start accepting the inefficiencies that are inherently tied to arranging and executing a phone call because they’re real, and they’re really slowing down the speed of business.

As an example, hey, let’s jump on a call is a problem the VAs at Less Doing run into ALL the time.

Clients will ask VAs to sync up with them on the phone—instead of Trello, Slack, etc.—only to discover matching two different schedules to accommodate a 15 or 20 minute conversation is a challenge in and of itself.

So instead of engaging in a form of asynchronous communication (like Roger) and getting the issue SOLVED ASAP, VAs spend their time chasing down clients, desperately trying to find a mutually agreeable time to talk.

And as much as a tool like Calendly can help in theory, what happens if the only time available on the client’s calendar is eight days away?

Or worse, what happens if a call is successfully scheduled but the client doesn’t show because of some last-minute commitment?

Work that could be getting done remains untouched…it’s nothing less than a waste of time.

That’s the beauty of asynchronous communication—it allows for important conversations to take place, but it gives all parties involved the ability to have those conversations on their own terms and schedules.

Again, this isn’t a Let’s Get Rid of the Phone Call campaign…it’s a Let’s Start Re-Thinking the Phone Call campaign.

So before picking up the phone today, take a moment to really think about whether or not the issue at hand actually requires a phone call.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the conclusion you come to.

-Ar