Bye-Bye to the Phone Call
As a means of communication, the phone call is dying, soon to be replaced by a mix of text-based exchanges over e-mail, IM, and social networks. Pro or con?
Pro: No More Ring
It’s hard to imagine the phone call becoming marginalized in our lifetime, but it has. Even our ideas from the past of what a phone would look like today are amusingly old-fashioned. Clunky video-phone kiosks, anybody?
Now we stream our life to the Web. And we quickly learn via text, images, and YouTube what a dozen friends and colleagues experienced today by connecting to the Internet, increasingly through a mobile device.
We communicate with more people in business and personally, and with greater regularity, than ever before. The iconic image of teenagers locked in their rooms while talking on the phone has been replaced with teens on the move while texting and updating their status on social networks.
With more than 81 percent of Internet users between 12 and 34 availing themselves of social networking sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s unlikely they’ll revert to communicating the way their parents did.
It’s not just for kids. The acceptance of new media communications by Internet users spans all ages, with more than half those under 65 using social networks.
No longer do we wait to tell friends about the to-die-for pear and Gorgonzola soufflé we ate at the family-run trattoria. We share it in real time simultaneously with hundreds of people in our social circles, and they comment back.
While hearing the voice of a loved one can never be replaced, the richness of how we now choose to communicate makes the phone call simply one dimension of a richer and preferred experience that has surpassed it.
Con: Voice Has Value
This debate is a great idea.
How did you read that statement I just made? As an honest compliment? A sarcastic jab? The problem is, you can’t truly know. Without tone of voice to guide you, you’re left to guess at my intent. The only way to know for sure? Call me.
Text-based communication has a key role in business, but one that is most effective for quick updates or batch processing of messages. When we try to utilize it for sensitive matters or strategic decision-making, it snarls and tangles. In a study we just conducted on the communication habits of business professionals, 72 percent said they’ve had to follow up an e-mail with a phone call to clarify an issue, and 50 percent said an e-mail message had been misunderstood and caused tension in a relationship.
Voice is how we’re meant to communicate. Preferably in person, where body language can assist in the communication as well. But when we’re in different places—and that’s increasingly the case these days—voice communication will remain essential to critical business matters. As we collaborate, as we negotiate, as we discuss complex or technical matters, voice or voice plus visuals is preferred 10x or more to written communication.
So if you want a quick response, or a topic is truly important, pick up the phone, whichever phone that may be—desk, mobile, or softphone. Your message will be heard loud and clear. And if you want to know my true intent in that opening statement, click here.