Bringing Back the Phone Conversation

As different communication methods continue to gain in prominence and usage, other older ones are consequently on the decline. By far, the medium that has taken the biggest hit is good ol’ traditional face-to-face communication. Wait, why did I take the time to plug the seemingly unnecessary word of “traditional” in front of face-to-face communication? Because these days with video conferencing, Skype, Face Time, and a whole slew of other services, you can technically achieve “face-to-face” communication without getting anywhere remotely close to the vicinity of the other person. But I digress…

Another communication method that seems just about extinct is the fax. At work, I have to familiarize myself with how to operate the fax machine each time I send something just because I use it so rarely. Correspondence via letters is just about a lost art too. Some would even argue that e-mail is just about on its way out as well. While still vitally crucial in the workplace, e-mail chains between friends and family members are quickly decreasing.

While all these forms of communication are taking the backseat to the “language of today,” namely text messaging and social media, there is another communication method that is on board the ship of declining relevancy: The traditional phone call.

Who really spends that much time talking on the phone anymore? Most people I know consider a phone call a nuisance. For me at work, I will usually opt to conduct basic correspondence via e-mail rather than over the phone. In my personal life, I always preferred text messaging to talking on the phone. At times I would silence my phone if it started ringing to avoid answering the call, even if I was perfectly capable of answering it. I would then immediately follow up with a text. Even in my dealings with important people such as my parents or significant others, I would try to convert as much of the conversation into text messaging as possible.

Lately though I have started to revert back to old school and have started touching up on my phone skills. As different people have entered my life, the need to engage in true real time audio correspondence (fancy term for phone conversations) has risen. With the minutes racking up on the time I have spent on the phone, I have definitely realized why we tend to avoid phone conversations but I have also rediscovered the joys of the device as well.

To sum it all up, phone conversations are challenging. First off, they take a lot out of you. Constantly talking-listening-talking-listening-talking-listening can really take its toll on a person. There are times when I will get off the phone and say out loud, “Man, that was exhausting!” Phone convos are also hard to develop a consistent flow. Without the luxury of seeing the person’s face, the common occurrence of interrupting someone or starting to talk right when the other person starts to talk happens all too frequently. This can lead to frustration and awkwardness, a good enough reason for most people to give up on phone conversations all together. Then there is the dilemma of finding a suitable spot to have the chat. I personally can’t talk on the phone in front of others. I think it is rude and I get embarrassed. I also have a tough time dealing with background noise as well. Unfortunately for me, even in a perfectly quiet place I am still asking the person who I am talking to if they could repeat what they just said. Obviously, if the conditions are not conducive to my less than stellar hearing and my need to be by myself, my phone conversation is not going to be successful. Finally, telephone correspondence can go wrong simply because of other external factors. The connection can be bad on one end, someone else might try calling you when you are already on the phone, or your device could run out of power.

All of these above reasons turned me into an exclusive texter over the past few years. I tended to shut out the people who wanted to have an actual conversation where we could hear each other’s voices. Not only did I do almost completely away with talking on the phone, I wouldn’t even consider leaving a voice message. However, it just takes someone special to change your take on phone conversations.

I am starting to get my phone talking skills back. Yes, it has been hard. When I take a phone call or make one now, I tell myself to be patient. I try to visualize the other person on the other end of the line and make my best guess on when they have finished speaking or if they are about to start. Going into the call I remind myself that I am invested in the conversation and that I am going to give that person 100% of my focus. Using these tips has allowed me to rediscover the joys of talking on the phone. You can get so much more content and dialogue into a 10 minute phone conversation than you can in an hour texting back and forth. You can also prevent against anything being taken out of context. With the phone you can detect emotion, sense attitudes, and immediately ask for clarification. What you say on the phone just means more too. It is so easy to type anything into a text message. You can say things you never would say if you actually had to use your voice. Telling a girl she is beautiful over text messaging is one thing, telling a girl she is beautiful over the phone takes a lot more conviction and strength. With phone conversations you put your personal stamp on what you say to a much higher degree than other mediums.

But really, what sets phone conversations apart from everything else is just the comfort and familiarity of the voice on the other end of the line. To actually hear the sound of someone makes the line of communication so much richer. It is amazing that I did not use my telephone for its intended purpose earlier.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love my text messaging and my social media. However, I am going to make a more conscious effort to talk a little more and pound my screen a little less. Time to not hide behind text and emoticons. God gave us all a voice, might as well use it. Don’t Blink.