Mid-June delivered two notable moments for The Phone Lady: 1) On Saturday June 14, my interview with freelance writer Adam McDowell was published as the Saturday feature in the National Post’s Weekend Post. This was followed, on June 16, by the full article being published online, along with a Skype video of my 5 Top Phone Tips. Adam did a great job on this article and has contributed to a growing awareness of the telephone conversation as a vital communication tool.
In the midst of all this activity, I gained new clarity on the role of the telephone in our lives. It was one of those light bulb moments which left me wondering “Why haven’t I realized this before?”
It relates to questions I get at every workshop and event about email and whether it can/should be used instead of phone calls. Here’s the thing: Email does not, and never has, replaced the phone conversation. Email replaced fax communication, telegrams and typewritten documents sent to us by regular post or courier, which replaced handwritten documents sent to us by regular post or courier, which replaced … . And some day, in the not too distant future, text messaging will replace email.
But nothing, no current technology that I have encountered or am aware of, has replaced the phone conversation. There’s certainly been attempts. We’re all familiar with the computerized calls we get at home from ship’s Captains or credit card companies. Those aren’t even close to replacing a phone conversation. And two years ago I wrote about Echo, a computerized way to create customer service and sales calls with pre-recorded conversation choices. While this technology had me thinking I was talking to a real person, the “conversation” part of the call was so peculiar it propelled me to uncover the digital application.
Phone conversations give us the ability to build and grow relationships, hear and act on opportunities, display our personality, share our compassion, empathy and understanding. These are essential aspects of personal communication. Only face-to-face meetings and video technology such as Skype and FaceTime (if you can tolerate the time lags and freeze ups) offer this same range of ability to communicate with each other.
Your phone skills do matter – to both your personal and business success. And, like other things in our lives, if we don’t use our phone skills and continue to refine them, we’ll lose our ability to communicate effectively. Whether it’s a customer, a prospect, a friend or family member, I encourage you to pick it up – have a conversation.
Enjoy your phone work everyone!