Business Irish

Monday 19 August 2019

Gina London: 'Time we got back to using phones to talk to each other'

Photo: Stock Image
Photo: Stock Image

Gina London

Oh my God, or (as my daughter only says now)"O-M-G"! It's time for a Gina London rant. I hereby dedicate this week's column to promoting the renewed use of our phones.

"What?" you instantly shoot back, "I use my phone all the time. What are you going on about?"

Sure, you use it to take photos, videos or Boomerangs. You're checking and sending emails. You're on various communications platforms. WhatsApp, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook Messenger to name a few ... but how effective are you with those communications? How efficient are you with your time?

Case in point. Recently, I got a DM (Direct Message for the few of you who might not know) on Twitter from Rob Cullen.

Rob's responsible for SME development for the Dublin Chamber. When he's not helping small businesses grow, he is one half of the dynamic duo known as Rob and Yvonne. I describe them that way because over the past several months, Rob and his wife Yvonne have made some pretty darn dramatic transformations.

Between the two of them, they lost 13 stones. It took this blow-in a moment to do the maths and understand that's the whopping equivalent of more than 180 pounds in American-style measurements. But it takes no maths conversion skills to simply look at their before and after photos and understand how inspirational they are.

"We did it for ourselves and for our kids," they beamed introducing me to their two extremely well-mannered young sons at this year's Thrive Conference which I spoke at and they attended.

Because we agree that improving minds and bodies is an integrated and connected process, we also agreed to get together one evening to swap stories and recipes.

That brings me to Rob's DM on Twitter. He pinged me there to set the day and time for our family cooking date. I didn't notice it. Not knowing he'd already written to me, I reached out to him over on What'sApp. In the meantime, Rob re-texted his message to me on my 'regular' phone number. That sat for about a day. We ultimately met back over on What'sApp and proceeded next to play text 'ping-pong'.

"What day works for you and Yvonne?" An hour or two pass. "Whatever works for you. Are you thinking weekday or weekend?" A day goes by. "Let's go for a weekend. Is that okay?" The text sits. "Sorry, I missed this. Yes, weekends are great with us." I forget I turned off my notifications and see this early morning the following day.

"Oh my gosh! I am free at 10am this morning, why don't you just call me the old fashioned way?" I plead.

"Absolutely," comes finally our first promptly returned reply text.

Dear readers, you won't be surprised to know that once we both hopped off texting platforms and onto an actual phone call together - we sorted out our calendars and last Saturday, family Gina met with family Rob and Yvonne. We cooked and chatted our hearts out.

Whew.

Here are my top reasons why many of us should also own up and admit that texting instead of calling can be a communications no-no.

1 A phone call takes place in REAL TIME

As demonstrated by my text-re-enactment, what could've been decided in under five minutes during a call, stretched out in dribs and drabs over days. Fortunately, Rob and I are already friendly - but imagine this in a more professional context. You could lose important momentum and rapport when you needlessly draw out what could be a single conversation into endless chunks of text.

2 A phone call gives you more EMOTION and TONE

Even if you've punctuated your texts with a string of emojis (I'm covered emojis in this column before), you still risk being misunderstood more in texts than through the benefit of the sounds in your voice.

3 A phone call is more DIRECT

Face it, texting is often used passively. You're not actively trying to take control of the issue at hand. You're lobbing an idea or question and switching your attention to something else. A phone call forces you to forecast outcomes and prepare for immediate follow-up.

4 You can't OVER-READ a phone call

How many times have you read, re-read and read again a brief text trying to discern the deeper meaning? A phone call prevents the problems that arise from that as described in points 1-3.

5 A phone call eliminates Autocorrect MISTAKES

You know what I mean about those. 'Muff said'. I mean 'Enough" said'.

I know for many informal conversations texting is more and more popular. But that doesn't make it always preferred. When asked if she was ready to start dating after her divorce from Ben Affleck, actor Jennifer Garner lamented to Vanity Fair magazine, "I don't know... men don't call anymore; I don't want to text. What does that make me? What kind of dinosaur am I?"

Take it from this fellow dinosaur. Sometimes old school is new school.

Call. Ring. Just #PUTP (pick up the phone) and talk directly.

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