The Phone: Should you bother?

Best Practices, Employees, Maren Hogan, Recruiting

So it’s been a week of phones for me. Not the standard kind either. With my kids, I’ll skype by father in New York. With my friends, I’ll jump on my home phone. My husband calls me on my cell and I use Google Voice for work calls. Point is, there’s a lot of talking going on in my life, and as a marketing pro and as someone who works with HR professionals and recruiters, I hear a lot about the phone. In fact, I wrote a post about it back in the day. Anyway, the debate rages on about using the phone, whether it’s useful as a business tool or even, get this, in your personal life. Check this out:

Maureen Sharib, notable in the Sourcing world for her Techtrack training (say that five times fast) writes this post over at ERE

I have a sense that a real yearning is emerging for information about how to communicate.

I mean about how to communicate face to face or over the phone and not about “communicating” on someone’s “Wall” on Facebook or sending an InMail through LinkedIn.

I’m talking about what you should say on the phone.

Now, this is obviously a “How-to” article. Her job and her life dictate that she must be on the phone and she is very good at it. But if you scroll through the comments, you’ll see a little pushback from folks as to whether or not conversations actually go the way she describes in the article.


However, I am not sure that in this digital/mobile/technologic advanced/generational transformation era, those methodologies are as effective. I’m just saying… people are no longer having long conversations on the phone anymore.

There was a tremendous response to that article, so much so that Maureen followed up with this one, in which she makes some of the following (very good) points:

The shiny bauble that is social media is a panacea for what ails those of you who want it to replace the telephone for communication.

It’s a cover for your fear of rejection.

It’s not that the telephone doesn’t work.

It’s that you don’t work the telephone.

And of course, she’s right. Teaching people how to cold call and talk on the phone (and erm, doing it myself) was one of the hardest things I have EVER had to do, (which is dumb, because it’s shockingly easy once you get over yourself). Still, there is a school of thought that makes the phone a little scary, particularly to the younger generations. Contract Maureen’s no-nonsense, get it done approach with this from Jezebel (arguably a more casual analysis of phone usage but still…):

There’s a reason kids today never call each other anymore. Actually, lots of reasons. For one, unless you are a creeper (or a journalist) and you tape your calls, you have no record of your conversation. It’s also hard to hear. So if what you really need to do is get some specific data across, text or email can be a lot better. This is especially true of addresses, and anything that’s difficult to spell.


In fact, while the article is titled, Mastering The Lost Art Of Actually Talking On The Phone

the first step is Decide if you actually need to call. And while most of the article is tongue in cheek, it might be argued that it is a window into how people view the phone today. There is even a allusion to the fact that mostly, journalists and “creepers” use the phone. ouch.

Finally, I stumbled on this (NSFW due to cussing at the end) via Urlesque. It’s funny and interesting but mostly it’s fascinating to see how truly silly our objections to the phone are. After all, our other modes of communication all have their pitfalls as well:

Skype: Calls get dropped all the time and the new ringer freaks me out

Oovoo: I look like crap on video and always have to have lipgloss on hand if someone calls

Google Chat: I’m a way faster typist than everyone else and I can’t understand their response because it’s from four questions ago

Facebook Chat: I never turn it on because people proposition me late at night

Email: I don’t think people read past the first paragraph and I am verbose. Lots of commas and semi-colons and that sort of thing

Texting: I always get it wrong and eventually my thumbs hurt