Communication skills – Bring back “The ‘Phone”

Communication skills – Bring back “The ‘Phone”

I was recently meeting a young school leaver to help give advice.  

They had worked for a short time in an office administration role but had not succeeded as they did not like using the telephone to actually ‘speak’ with people as “everyone our age just uses social media, no one uses the phone to speak”.

Actually this is a common observation by employers, not always just about graduates and school leavers. There is a generation unfamiliar, anxious and reluctant to use a telephone to speak. Rather than speak, people check mobiles / emails every few minutes (sometimes for hours) to see if they have a reply.

Long gone are the days where you were taught from a very young age how to answer the ‘home phone’, learnt your number off by heart ( I still remember mine !) , where ‘talking’ on the phone was a means of instant communication, it took minutes to arrange something with friends, not 2 hours (and several hundred ‘pings’!).

Times have changed, emails and texts have overtaken calls, a generation or two know nothing about telephone boxes and ’reverse charges’.  However I still do think that there is a need for verbal communication by phone in business.

According to a ‘Dr Albert Mehrabian’  human communication is broken down as 55% body language, 38% tone of voice and 7 % words.  In a world of ‘communication’ we don’t seem to be doing so well. A lot of things are written and ‘sent’ which would not be ‘said’ over the phone/face to face as it is more personal. We must all know people who have ‘read’ the wrong tone into an email or text they received and would have started a retaliatory response until you asked them to re read the email and change their own tone. Suddenly it is no longer someone ‘having a go’, it is actually someone just having a joke . 

7% words in that case = 38 % ‘ misinterpreted tone’ that could be extremely damaging..

I found the following article when looking for reasonspeople don’t use their phones…

A bunch of millennials explained in a survey why they despise phone calls.

According to ‘Blogger’  Hillel Fuld - while he doesn’t target his comments specifically at millennials, he nevertheless puts it: “It’s simple: if you text or email someone, they can respond on their time. But if you call someone, they need to respond right now on your time. It’s just inconsiderate.”

‘Inconsiderate!”… After spitting out my coffee I realised that I do actually text and email first and thinking about it , it is because I don’t want to feel I am putting someone on the spot if I call. I go to email / text first giving someone the choice to respond when they are able to. However what is ‘inconsiderate’ is emailing and texting someone who you know is next to their phone , on social media accounts 24/7 and who then does not respond to any form of communication.

If it is important that I need a quick response/answer then I always will ring – if that is conceived as ‘being inconsiderate’ of your time, then apologies – but let’s flip it round a second, surely you not responding is’ being inconsiderate’ of mine?

This is a subject, that now more than ever, seems so important due to the current Pandemic we are facing.