Pick up the phone!
06 October, 2022
I checked my mobile data usage recently - it seems I’ve only used 131 minutes of my unlimited calls and yet, in contrast, I’m permanently adding to my data bundles which I tear through every month.
As someone who started out as a PR account executive over 25 years ago this came as a surprise. Back then my phone was permanently glued to my ear - pitching to journalists, liaising with clients, colleagues, and of course non-stop chatter with my friends.
But in this permanently ‘on’, 24/7 world it’s starting to feel like we’ve all forgotten how easy things could be if we just picked up the phone, yet we seem to avoid it at all costs. It’s clearly just not that straightforward anymore – a quick trawl through Google search results reveals some pretty stark statistics:
• 62% of office-based employees have reasons for experiencing call-related anxiety before answering the phone
• A survey of UK office workers found that more than three quarters (76%) of millennials and 40% of babyboomers have anxious thoughts when their phone rings.
Of course, the pandemic certainly didn’t do us any favours – we all got so used to being booked into back-to-back Teams or Zoom meetings that we almost became institutionalised. So now, if the phone rings, it catches us off guard and almost feels like a personal intrusion if it hasn’t been ‘formally’ booked into our calendars!
I’ve noticed it in my kids too – it feels like they are permanently, surgically attached to their phones, but if I try to call them, they very rarely answer yet within minutes they will text to ask me what I want. Of course, they are a new generation who have grown up in the world of mobile phones and all things digital, so they’re permanently connected. But they are still so very reluctant to make a simple phone call. It’s the last thing they would think of – and I really think that has to change.
I fully appreciate, in our hectic lives, that texting is much quicker and much more convenient, but communication is a critical component of building social skills. A study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, found that communication interactions that included voice, like a phone call or video chat, created stronger social bonds than communication through typing, like text messaging or email. It’s difficult to gauge feelings when texting – it's easier to understand sentiment from a phone call - and if you want to feel more connected to the people you're talking to, you could consider calling them instead of texting.
As someone who’s spent her entire career in comms this all seems so obvious to me, yet my own mobile usage clearly proves I’m less of a chatter and more of a WhatsApp-er/texter these days. So, my end of 2022 resolution is going to be to commit to making (and answering) more phone calls, and less texting. I totally understand that for some it’s not that easy, but I really believe we need to start getting back to basics with some more personal comms: talking to others leads to better communication and helps build deeper relationships so, to quote from one of my favourite ads, why not try it – ‘It’s good to talk’!