If you want to test out, practice or stretch your phone skills, I have a challenge for you this week.
I’ve been asked the question “Why the telephone?” a lot in the past few weeks. And while I’ve been contemplating the many different answers, I thought about my mom.
Our family home was in Timmins, Ontario, far away from the majority of our extended family and many of my mom’s closest friends. She, and the women of her generation, wrote letters to stay in touch with each other (yes, letters, with stamps and the need of a post office). They were diligent about this task and still … one Sunday a month they would pick up the phone, incur the long-distance charges (yes, long distance phone calls were a luxury item, with discounts offered after midnight and between 8 am and 5 pm on Sundays), and have a conversation.
My mom knew that the written word was not sufficient for maintaining and growing relationships.
I carried the Sunday phone call into my now 32-year-old relationship with my step-daughters. The tradition began when they were young, living in Ottawa with their mom while their dad and I lived in Toronto. We’d all rally around the phone for a weekly update.
With my oldest step-daughter, phone communication expanded into evenings doing homework, check-ins while she traveled, daily conversations whenever we lived in the same city. Now that she’s living in Halifax, it’s probably not an exaggeration to say we speak on the phone 8 to 10 times a week.
These conversations allow us to share the details of our lives. We learn how we feel about things, what our dreams are, as well as the minutiae – like the new software we’re learning or books we’re reading. The phone keeps us intimately and deeply connected.
With my youngest step-daughter, we never embraced the rhythm of Sunday phone call. Our schedules often conflict and we’ve taken to texting. And while we keep those short messages going back and forth regularly, we haven’t had a good conversation in quite some time.
So we’re missing out on the details of each other’s lives right now. I don’t know how she’s feeling, if her dreams are still within reach. And I know that when we next get together we’ll need to spend time catching up before our true intimacy sparks and we are deeply connected once again.
What I know to be true is phone conversations nourish relationships, all relationships, both personal and business.
A great way to get started using the phone more often is by practicing on friends and family … and this is my challenge to you.
Choose one friend or family member you haven’t spoken to for quite some time. Pick up the phone and call them; have a conversation. What do you learn about them, about their lives that no text or email message would have conveyed? And how did you feel, having that conversation? What did you share about yourself?
Here’s to great phonework this week!