With the advent of smartphones and communication platforms, fewer people and workplaces are using telephones. Etiquette expert Jodi R.R. Smith even called it “a lost art.”
However, some experts believe that a phone call could be more effective than the dings of an incoming Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet call.
Here are some of the reasons why:
Clearing the air
Telephones are the best way to cut through complex emails, meandering chats, and unclear texts, said Liz Wyse, an adviser at professional coaching company Debrett’s.
Extended back-and-forth emails with a client over confusing details can result in frustration or even loss of the account.
Some issues, however, can be sorted out immediately by just picking up a phone and dialing a number.
“Zoom fatigue” is real. After years of relying on videoconferencing platforms to communicate with each other, it is not surprising that almost everyone is tired of using them.
Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University, noted that videoconferencing could be quite performative. People must present a pleasant appearance, smile at the correct times, and look alert while the other person is talking.
Phone calls, however, allow people to be flexible and do whatever they want. “..you can stretch your back, doodle, take a brisk walk, or simply gaze at the window — providing a boost to your mental or physical health,” Bailenson added.
Workplace communication today can be highly planned and scheduled — which is okay for people with anxiety. However, it can also be quite formal.
Phone calls’ spontaneous and informal nature helps build connections and a sense of belonging.
Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Connection Science and Human Dynamics labs shows that the most effective teams engage in frequent, informal communication outside of scheduled meetings.
Phone calls can be more confidential than Slack and Skype messages.
Nisha Trivedi, a business etiquette trainer, said, “For more sensitive information, or a point of view, the phone can be invaluable. Sometimes there is no substitute for it.”
Job seekers will get much further by ringing up a recruiter rather than simply uploading a resume to a job board.
Even if you are not looking for a job, phoning in a colleague or a previous employer can offer a networking boost, improving your chances of landing a job at a company that suits your skills most.
Though phone calls can be more helpful than dropping in a simple message in a communication platform, they could also offer some drawbacks. Due to their informal nature, phone calls can quickly become flippant and inappropriate if not controlled.
To prevent this, experts suggest bringing an agenda to each phone conversation—that way, you know how and when to start a topic or end the call.