For as long as I can remember, a neat wooden telephone bench, with a beautiful maroon-coloured velvet seat cushion, and a small built-in shelf for storing the phone directory and address book, took a prominent position in my childhood home.
Grandma’s phone bench, as I like to call it, was a sophisticated two-way information dissemination system. A permanent fixture in our home, it was conveniently located at the thoroughfare area of our busy living room, amidst much buzz and activity. For Grandma, the phone was an instrument with which she would connect with her friends and gain some respite from her daily household chores and duties. Through heart-to-heart phone conversations, the latest community news was shared, invitations were extended and received, and advice was dispensed.
The phone was also an instrument with which other members of my family connected with their circle of friends.
Usually, no formal introductions were needed in the phone calls — both sides recognised each other’s familiar voices. Through the phone calls, relationships were deepened, friendships strengthened, and trust built.
Fast forward to the age of texting. Can we have meaningful conversations with someone over text messages? Can we really establish a similar rapport, build a friendship or share our deepest feelings, by exchanging a text message of sparsely-worded and heavily-populated emojis?
Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer phone calls over text messages when it comes to building meaningful relationships. It doesn’t matter whether you’re calling from your mobile phone or your land line. To me, phone calls are a far more attractive investment. Here are a few of my reasons:
1. You are dedicating your time
The person whom you call will know that you are actually dedicating time to talk with them and that you value their company.
2. Both sides are hearing each other’s tone of voice
You and the person on the other side of the phone line have the opportunity to hear each other’s tone of voice. You will know whether the person on the other side is distracted or really interested in listening and participating in the conversation, and vice versa. If there is a miscommunication, either of you can instantly clarify with the other person, rather than spending days agonising over a text message and analysing it!
3. Both sides are connecting more intensely
With the greater depth of conversations that you can have in a phone call, both sides are able to connect more intensely, thereby fostering a deeper relationship.
4. At times, it is just easier to talk than text
Some matters are too complex and are just easier to call and talk about rather than be described in a text message.
5. You are going beyond mere formalities
By engaging in a phone conversation, you will be able to show the other person that you really care, and that you are not just enquiring about them as a matter of formality.
6. You are both having a “real time” conversation
A phone conversation is much more natural and smoother as it happens in “real time”. You don’t have to wait for 30 minutes before a text reply comes through!
7. You are not depending on acronyms and emojis to express yourself
Phone conversations help us to speak in a fuller and a more meaningful way. We will have a better command of our vocabulary if we’re not always relying on acronyms or emojis to make our point. In this age of using acronyms in text messages, are we losing our ability to express ourselves in neat and simple sentences? Are people so time-deprived that everything needs to be boiled down to TTYL (talk to you later), LOL (laughing out loud), BTW (by the way)…etc? As for emojis, have you ever tried to figure out what a certain emoji means? Personally, besides the smiley face emoji, all the others seem a bit contrived to me. Surely we can say that we are sad, without needing a sad-faced emoji. Or that we’ve been crying or feel like crying, without relying on that tearful emoji that sheds the blobs of blue tears. Or that we’re upset about something, without depending on the upset-faced emoji. If you’re not sure of the exact word to describe your emotions, why not check the dictionary or a thesaurus rather than browse through your phone’s emoji gallery? This will go a long way in making your conversations over the phone more engaging.
So if you have a friend (or a customer) whom you’ve not been in touch with for some time, why not give them a call, instead of dropping them a generic text message Perhaps hearing your warm voice on the other side might be the only motivation that they may need to open up and share their concerns with you. Something that cannot be easily achieved through text messages, or even emails.