Isn’t the telephone a wonderful thing? Can you think of a more modern convenience which has spanned more than 150 years?
It’s a lifeline. It’s a business line. It’s a personal line. It’s a social line.
If the title didn’t date me, the following certainly will. When I was a young teenager, I spent many hours on the only phone in the house. In the kitchen. Hardwired to the wall. With a “handset” connected by a chord.
Going a little further back in history (really, to 1876), Alexander Graham Bell made the first phone call. It was to his assistant, to whom he simply said, “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you.”
Straight and to the point, I’m certain that Mr. Watson complied. For one thing, Mr. Watson was at a predictable location. It would have been difficult to avoid someone who knew where he was and wanted something from him.
Until the first commercial cell phone hit the market in 1983, you knew that if someone answered their telephone they were in a predictable location, usually home or work. And, generally, the only reason they wouldn’t have answered it would have been because they weren’t there.
Ah, but things change, don’t they?
They went from having an operator connecting two parties, to person to person phone calls, to a virtual hand-held computer providing the ability to be as connected and productive as ever. Right?
One would think that it would be easier than ever to connect with someone.
As you know, that is not the case and it seems we are actually more disconnected than ever. After all, we’re a very mobile society. And while we may have our phone with us, if we don’t want to be bothered we simply don’t answer it. And staying in any one location to wait on a phone call? No way!
Two Things The Telephone Can Do For You:
Connect you to your customers
Connect your customers to you
The point is, short of snail-mail, or face-to-face contact, the telephone probably remains the most meaningful way to connect with one another. (And if you’re thinking of email, forget it. That’s as easy to avoid connection as the Caller ID function, only less annoying to the avoider, because they just mark you as SPAM.)
I know. Frustrating.
It’s frustrating to call customers who won’t pay you, or show up for appointments, or bother to re-schedule, or who just won’t connect to say they are not interested in what you are selling.
It’s frustrating for customers to call providers and have to follow slow speaking, blaring instructions in an attempt to connect with a live person. It’s also frustrating when the person answering the phone is simply too busy to allow the caller to completely get their words out of their mouth before they interrupt them, abruptly put them on hold, or transfer the call. And let’s not forget the deafening music provided for your enjoyment.
I don’t know about anyone else, but when that happens to me, it simply says that they are too busy for me. And no matter how many times their recording breaks in to tell me how important my call is to them, it just doesn’t ring true.
Connecting with the Disconnected:
With our phones, we can text, do our banking, monitor home alarms, conduct live-stream spying sessions on babysitters, adjust temperatures and lighting, unlock doors, and video chat with loved ones, and the list goes on.
We can do so many things on these devices we still refer to as “phones”, but we can’t seem to talk to anybody.
I’m not a licensed counselor, so this is not intended as “professional” advice, but my “common sense, can’t we work this out together” advice is this:
It’s all about RELATIONSHIP.
Answer the phone. Say something. Listen. Respond.
You may be tired of hearing the “R” word, personally and/or professionally, but it doesn’t matter. Without it, you simply go to Voicemail.