Advice for the Clueless: Email is Not the Same as Telephone Call

I hope “Advice for the Clueless” doesn’t become a regular series. I’m trying to keep things positive but at the same time perhaps I can help someone.

A few weeks ago I mentioned here on the blog that we’re taking an Alaskan cruise this summer. We’re really excited and are definitely looking to learn more about Alaska. Part of the reason for posting on the blog is to see what kind of advice we might get. So, I am not adverse to input.

That said, the delivery mechanism matters and not all media are created equal.

A few days ago I received a phone call at work. Here’s how it went.

Kevin: Hello.
Caller: I hear you want to know about Alaska.
Kevin: What?
Caller: You posted on your blog about Alaska. I am from Alaska, so I thought I’d give you a call.
(long pause… ponders response while at work…)
Kevin: (sarcastically) Really?
Caller: What? You don’t want to learn more about Alaska? Why else would you blog about it? I was going to email but I thought I’d phone instead.
Kevin: Look, I am at work and don’t have time to talk. And a phone call is really different than email.
Caller: What do you mean?
Kevin: If you don’t know I can’t help. (hang up)

I’ve thought about this call. The caller sounded young. But I am trying to figure out what generation, young or old, would equate a telephone call with an email.  The caller did himself no favors by not introducing himself, or by asking if this was a good time to talk (hint: when you call somone you know to be an adult at 3 pm local time you should expect they might be at work…).

Differences between Email and Phone:

Email Phone
I can ignore if I am busy working (or playing) Even if I don’t answer I still am interrupted
Take the time for thoughtful, well-reasoned replies Every call is an impromptu speaking opportunity
If you say something stupid I can forward it to your friends and enemies Recording phone calls without permission is a felony
Have to come up with eloquent wording to “flame” you I CAN RAISE MY VOICE AND YELL
You won’t notice banging my keyboard in frustration Slamming my phone hurts your ears
Nice way to introduce yourself to someone you don’t know If I don’t know you I am going to think this is a telemarketing scam
Never need to ask if it’s okay to talk Often need to ask if it’s okay

 

Thankfully, there are clueful people out there. When I Twittered for email vs. telephone advice I got some nice responses.

Brassplayer: 
As a visual learner, I greatly prefer email. For business, you should only phone if time sensitive, otherwise, use email. Also, email can be serve as a handy record of a conversation, especially if there is some sort of problem later on.

Sarah:
As a mom of young children, phone calls are inevitably interrupted a million times, with tons of distractions and background noise. Emails might be started in the morning and finished twelve hours later, but at least they are clearer and easier to understand for the recipient.

Laura:
I have a tendancy to hesitate and not get things out the way I like when I speak on the phone….. but with email, I can read over what I’ve written about 8 times to make sure I get my point across. Although, when you’re pissed at someone and talking to them on the phone, nothing beats hanging up on that person while they’re in the middle of saying something. :] 

Melonie:
I have had an inexplicable fear of the phone since I was young — despite my mother’s best attempts to cure me. . . Like Laura I like to make sure I sound as smart as possible and when i’m on the phone, that doesn’t always happen. 

Sage advice to be sure!

 

Summary

Email is not the same as a phone call. 

Make sense?  If you still aren’t sure, then leave a comment here on the blog. Or share your own feelings about this important part of modern social discourse.

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