A lot of people will read this and call me insensitive and impersonal, claiming that Facebook and the Internet are ruining relationships, and life as we know it. Those people usually drive a Prius, and don’t eat bacon. I’m not sure how that’s relevant, it’s just what I’ve found.
It’s no secret that I hate the phone. Not the actual phone, I love my iPhone, but I hate talking on it. (Unless it’s to Siri. She’s nice, and she gets me.) It’s not that I don’t like people or talking to them, I just find that talking on the phone frustrates the heck out of me, so I decided to share some thoughts on why.
5 Reasons I Hate Talking on the Phone
1. I despise idle chitchat.
It drives me nuts. I like to get straight to the point, and only say as much as needed. Partly because I’m incredibly busy, but that’s not the only reason. If I schedule a call, I can make it happen and take the time. But I will still despise having to sit there on the phone. It’s mainly because my brain can’t handle just doing one thing, especially something that I find to be low priority (meaning chitchat, not necessarily the idea of talking to people).
When you call someone on the phone, there is an expectation for at least a little chitchat. “How are you?, “How are the kids?,” ” Sorry I missed your birthday, and your wedding…,” etc…
Then there is the time it takes to wrap up the call. “Let’s not let it be so long before we chat again…,” “I’m your mother, you should call me more…,” etc…
Unless we are really good friends, I’d rather just communicate with you through Facebook, texting, and email. It’s much more efficient, I can keep up with a lot more, and I don’t have to waste time.
2. Unless it’s a planed call, it’s interrupting something.
If you email, text, or Facebook then I choose when to reply. I have the freedom to read and digest what you sent and formulate an appropriate response at an appropriate time. By calling me you are expecting me to stop what I’m doing and chat with you.
I rarely pick up the phone when it rings. I don’t like the authority it gives people over me. Unless you’re my wife or my boss, you’ll get voicemail. And my voicemail says “The best way to reach Justin is to hang up and text him.” If you leave a voicemail, I’ll text or email you back rather than call you – so it would be quicker if you just tried that in the first place.
3. Crosstalk annoys me.
When you’re on the phone you can’t see each other. You can’t read body language or facial expressions, so sometimes it’s hard to know when someone’s point is done and it’s your turn to talk. So you end up talking over each other. It drives me nuts. Maybe this is why I don’t mind FaceTime or Skype calls as much.
4. It’s harder to say “no” on the phone.
Again, if you email me a question, I can formulate my response. I can do the research, build my case, and give you a well written, polite no. On the phone I’m put on the spot. I can’t think as fast. My number one priority is to get off the phone, so I end up making quick decisions that I regret. I hear your voice and I don’t want to disappoint you.
5. Phone calls leave no paper trail.
When I’m on the phone it’s hard for me to take notes because I have to focus on you the whole time, providing “uh-huh’s,” and “yeah’s,” and other words to let you know I’m listening. And even if I’m able to write things down, it’s me against you if what I wrote down is inaccurate. There’s no email or text message to go back and read to verify what was said and when.
If it’s important I’ll usually immediately follow up a phone call with an email or text confirming what was said, and making a record of the decisions that were made so I can refer to them later. And this frustrates me because you just forced me to do the same thing twice. Had you just emailed, there would already be a record of it.
5 Tools I Use Instead
Here’s some tools I use to help me avoid the phone. Maybe if you used them too, you wouldn’t feel the need to call me so much.
I replaced the built in voicemail app on my phone with Libon. Much like Google Voice, Libon transcribes your voicemails into text so that you can read them without having to play them back. Except Libon uses your existing phone number, unlike Google Voice that requires you to use a new number (which has it’s purposes). I’ve found Libon’s transcribing to be 10X more accurate than Google.
Libon has many other features that I find useful as well. I can arrange my contacts into groups and give each group a different voicemail greeting. If my wife calls and I miss her call, then Libon tells her my location. This helps her determine if I’m still at work and maybe stuck in a meetings, or if I’m on my way home, or if I’m in jail and she needs to come bail me out again.
If you aren’t in my contact list you get a more generic greeting. Good friends get a more personal greeting. If you called from a blocked number, you get a greeting that asks you to make sure you leave your name and phone number. There’s a ton of different options. Libon can even read your last Facebook or Twitter status to your callers if you feel that’s important.
2. Fancy Hands
I just started using the Fancy Hands personal assistant service. Fancy Hands provides help with any task that can be done via a computer or phone. It’s like having a real life personal assistant, who handles your research, scheduling, and more. Whenever I need to make a call that isn’t personal, I try to have my Fancy Hands assistant take care of it. In the last few days Fancy Hands has helped me with:
- Called my local VW dealership and made me an appointment to have a coolant leak in my car checked out. They called, booked the appointment, looked into getting a loaner vehicle, and added it to my calendar. I didn’t have to do a thing.
- Called around to homeschool co-ops to research costs and services available for helping us homeschool my son.
- Find a restaurant for a meeting, make a reservation, and add the appointment to my calendar and those I’m meeting with.
3. Apple VIP Settings
On my iPhone I use Apple’s VIP and Favorites settings for contacts. I have a list of people who I don’t want to miss when they call or email. If someone from this list calls or emails then my phone immediately lets me know, otherwise it leaves me alone. For everyone else, I’ll check your email or return your phone call during times I’ve set aside to handle email and phone calls.
I save and archive everything. Important voicemails, important emails, notes, clippings, websites, even my Fancy Hands tasks are all sent to Evernote so that I can categorize, tag, and search for later.
When you take the time to organize Facebook it can be a very useful communication tool and not a distraction or burden. I have 500 friends on Facebook, and I “like” thousands of pages from businesses, news sites, blogs, celebrities, and products. However, only about 25-30 of those people and pages make it in my news feed. And even those 30 are tailored down in the settings (for example, I see everything my wife posts, but for someone else I may only see their status updates and not photos of their dog and kids). I only see a stream of the stuff that is important to me.
Keeping it trimmed down like this means that I can check it often throughout the day and it only takes me 4-5 minutes to get updated on everything, including news and blog stories from sources that are important to me. And for those people or pages that I don’t want to miss, I turn on notifications for their content, and I turn off notifications for everyone else. So when I get a notification from Facebook I know it’s not something stupid that will waste my time.
It also helps that I block all games and invites. I don’t use Facebook as a time waster.