You Should Have Picked Up The Phone!

Contributor Ryan Tate

When I think back to a previous job position I was in, coaching and mentoring property investors. One of the senior Relationship Managers was a real wordsmith, or another term I have heard used is copyrighter. He had some great advice on how to structure an email, and also cut out some of the unneeded BS, getting straight to the point. I don’t know if you agree, but as a rule, I communicate better via written word. However there is definitely times when a phone call, even though, they can be nerve wracking at times, are a far more suitable way to go. We are also in an era where it looks like phone calls are fading especially, it seems, when a sensitive subject is concerned. I believe there is value in not hiding behind the screen, taking a deep breath, and dialing. That also helps to instill a sense of empathy. Not too long ago, researchers at the University of Michigan found that there was a 40% decrease in empathy among certain populations, which correlated with an increased use of technology. It’s a symptom of hiding behind a screen and, therefore, not being able to associate emotion with what’s being said.

So when is one of these times I find a call is better than the humble email ?

An apology holds a lot more weight and will come off more authentic if a person can hear the remorse in your voice when calling to apologise. Although it is hard to admit we are wrong at times and even harder to actually say out aloud those words “I am sorry.” I think we all agree going down the path of quickly typing it out in an email or text message is a lot easier especially if you’re afraid of screwing up an apology.  You may be worried about babbling (especially in my case) or going off script. A little life hack can be to still write down what you are wanting to convey before you make the call. Actually having a script or bullet points. I personally find this helps me a lot. I am a lot less lost, umming and ahrring and generally get across what I want to say more clearly and confidently. Do make sure it is natural however because if the other party senses you are reading it, it will not come across authentic at all, and could do more harm than good. Most of us grow up understanding that, when we do something wrong we should say, sorry 96% of parents think it’s important for kids to apologize when they deliberately upset someone, and 88% believe the same is true, even when it’s unintentional. 

Let’s admit it, in life sometimes sh%t just happens!  Which can take us away from getting to our day job. In these instances it is far better to call the boss and let them know what is going on and explain the situation rather than text or email. So when you need to bring up something personal like a family emergency or medical issue have a real conversation about it instead. I can guarantee the person at the other end will have more empathy for what is going on. I have even been in workplaces where it was a prerequisite to call and not text when needing to not show up for work, no matter what the time of day…or night.

If you have something to explain that is complicated a phone call over an email or txt can be crucial at times. Written instructions are always helpful however if you are trying to follow a series of complicated steps, or you’re simply new to what you’re doing it’s very helpful to have someone walk you through via spoken word. There is a reason why telephone support still exists I know I certainly would rather pick up the phone if I need support rather than ask a question via email and possibly waits at least 24 to 48 hours before getting a response, that may even need more clarification.

I clearly remember a friend of mine explaining when she needed to discuss an upcoming project she specifically chose to have a phone conversation rather than go over the details via mail. Calls that have a lot of questions are typically harder to handle over email, because that’s not a real-time conversation. With a phone call you can go back and forth on one question until it’s clarified and then move onto the next one making it a far more efficient way to communicate addressing all questions in a single phone call, rather than emailing back-and-forth. When going down the path of emailing back-and-forth it can be easy to lose track of what has been asked and what has been covered. A great way to go, is chat over the phone and be sure to take notes during the call. Combine the phone call with a follow-up email to ensure that both parties are on the same page after chatting, this will also give you both a point of reference down the track.

If you have taken far too long to respond to an email taking the effort to actually call a person and address the issue rather than responding with an overdue email that is just going to flood his or her inbox too speaks volumes. Let’s admit it most of us have unread emails in the double digits at least! It can be easy to overlook an email and have your heart skip a beat when you do come across it. Have you ever marked an email as “Important” only to forget about it again for days?

Keeping that human element is very important especially in this day and age where people would rather write and say it and it is easier to hide behind a screen. All you need to do is look around on a train or out in public to see where people’s attention is focused. Often glued to their screens. There is plenty of literature on our preference to type.  I am a little old school and love to hear the emotion or conviction behind what someone is saying.  A business mogul and mentor of mine used to say  “If you can make the call over an email, then do it!”

 I would love to know your thoughts please leave a comment or feel free to share this post.  In summary let me be clear in saying that I do not disregard the impact or value in emailing or text, which is super popular in this day and age, I do love a good email. You can’t beat a good chin wag on the old dog ‘n bone!

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Ryan Billy Tate

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