I have a phone problem. Always have, always will. The problem is I don’t like talking on the phone. I will for some situations, but most of the time I don’t. I know, I know I read the articles too that say in business situations phone call > e-mail and face-to-face > phone calls, but I can’t help it, I hate talking on the phone. When I get a call at work, if I don’t know the number I let it go to voice mail. Then I check the message, if one is left. I will then wait about 2 hours or so and e-mail that person, if I know or can find their e-mail. I’ll tell them “got your VM”, write up a response, make up some lame excuse for not calling, provide some information based on the VM, and hope that person e-mails me back.
I think my problem stems from getting flustered on the phone. I have a problem following conversations where I can’t see the other person. I consider my ability to read body language/non-verbal clues to be excellent. I always score high on empathy on those personality tests. In face-to-face conversations I have an easier time following the flow of the conversation, reading what the other person is trying to convey while they are talking and formulating a response in a way they will understand. On the phone I lose that visual focus and then my mind tends to wander and I miss parts of the discussion. E-mail is easy, I can write, delete, write, add, subtract to the information I’m sending. I try and write in a way that I think the reader will understand. For instance, I interact with Brits for work on occasion, when I write to them I try to style and flow the words similar to how they do. Not using colloquiums like cheerio, pip, pip, etc, but writing in their style. I do the same when I e-mail I friend that volunteers for the same organization I do, she was a high school English teacher so when I e-mail or text her I really focus on my grammar and spelling. That’s just the way I’ve always been.
I think part of it may be generational. I’m early 40s, my co-workers that are early 50s don’t have an issue with the phone, co-workers in their early 30s not only don’t use the phone, but can’t write well either, but that’s another story. It is part of the reason I’m hoping that video phones capability can be further developed and become the norm and things like Skype video become more prevalent in both industry and government settings so when the phone rings I can answer it and have a face-to-face conversation.