When exactly did it become considered bold to call someone on the telephone? My 30-something friends assure me that texting is the non-confrontational way to go. Phone calls are aggressive, they say. E-mail, like t-rex, has fallen into the primal ooze, never to be used except by businesses bombarding us with SALE messages. But the phone, ah the phone. Human voice to voice connection.
One of my recent clients asked me to create a communications structure that would bring people together. More e-mails, they asked? No, I said. Website postings? Possibly, I said. Meet in person? I said. Too expensive, they said. Phone meeting, unscripted, I said. They agreed, though bailed on the unscripted part.
I proposed voice to voice, sound waves touching, intertwining, because the touch aspect is higher. The impact greater. Can voices deceive? Of course they can. But when the goal is connection, the chances are greater when we can hear the other person. When we can hear the silence or the sigh, the spaces between the words
Parents worry about the hours their children spend on laptops or smartphones, but back in my teen years, we spent hours with a phone tucked between chin and shoulder, wrapped in conversations with friends who we might have just seen, or would see later that day. I can’t guess if texting has the same pull for friends, that those marathon phone conversations had for me. I’m going out on a limb and saying — not really. Because there is no voice.
Today, I noticed thanks to Facebook, that it was the birthday of a friend who I had not seen in a very long time. I knew he had a rough year; I felt out of connection. Without thinking, I hit the call button on my cell. He, of course, saw the caller ID and was smiling (I could tell the way his voice turned up at the edges) when he answered. We talked, no more than ten minutes, agreed to have lunch soon, and both went our ways. I’d caught him wrestling a ladder up the stairs of his house, not the best time for chatting. Despite the brevity of our conversation, I rang off thinking mission accomplished. If I had e-mailed (yes I still e-mail because I am at core, a writer), we might have actually nailed down a date for our get together, but something more important had occurred. I’d felt his voice, heard his pleasure at hearing from me.
Best of all? Spending time with someone. Next? Talking by phone, or if you are so inclined, by Skype — though I find the time lag disjointing to the flow — and feel the need to brush my hair and change my outfit before signing on.
Not included in the delights of phone conversation–working conference calls. Bewildering in flow, as everyone tries to break into the conversation without visual cues, the loud dominate, the meek go silent, conference phone calls are the flip side, the evil twin, the dark side of the moon. Let’s go towards the light.
Try it. Just one time this week. Call someone with whom you have lost touch. You don’t need an appointment to talk, just the desire. You can ask after the initial exchange, “is this a good time?” If your friend is wrestling ladders through the house or changing diapers or giving the cat a bath or …. she will tell you and then you can schedule. Or just go with the brief, unexpected delight of hearing her voice and decide that you will do it again. And again.