Texting has become so prevalent that people text more than they call.
Even at work, texting has become the preferred method of communicating with your coworkers or subordinates. It’s so quick, and it makes it so much easier to call in “sick” when you don’t have to feign a stuffy nose or the sound of death in your voice.
You can text someone when you don’t need an answer right away and don’t want to bother them. It’s just so simple!
Along with texting, it seems like people also tend to communicate via email instead of calling. Emails make it easy to include a lot of people in a conversation. You can get input from multiple people who can’t agree on a time to actually meet. Email makes it easy for you to communicate with coworkers halfway around the world who are working while you’re sleeping. Email makes it easy to organize your thoughts before you run them by someone else. Email also automatically creates documentation of a conversation, whether you just don’t like having to write everything down, or you have other reasons for needing to document conversations with coworkers, clients, regulators, etc. Email is also just a really easy way to avoid feeling embarrassed or nervous by having to pick up your phone and call a stranger. I even email coworkers who are on the other side of my cubicle, just so they have a reminder of my needs instead of keeping track of it all on paper.
However, emailing or texting can be less efficient than just calling someone. With technological communication, you may have 10 different exchanges before you actually come to a conclusion. You may also have several emails that go off on a tangent, as some people continue moving forward with a group conversation before others have even read the first message. You may get emails every 10 minutes and have a hard time ignoring them, so you get distracted from what you’re doing to take a peek and see what someone else wants. If you close out of your email for an hour to accomplish something, you feel like you’re cheating someone out of a quick response.
Don’t misunderstand me, emails and texts have their place in the office. But by far the most detrimental aspect of emailing or texting is loss of the personal connection you get by hearing someone’s voice or by walking over to talk to them. We’ve all heard that texting or emailing leads to miscommunication. We tend to “read into” people’s messages, assuming there’s a negative tone to the message, even when the sender meant no harm. When you email or text more than you pick up a phone, you tend to read into messages so often, that you begin to get the wrong message from your coworkers. You can feel like you don’t fit in, or like your isolated from your group. These feelings can make you question your job or your abilities. Picking up the phone instead of sending an email can take a weight off your shoulders. You will also likely get an answer quicker, or work out details that you can’t quite “talk through” in an email. If you want to document a phone conversation, take notes, and then send a follow-up email with important items to all concerned parties. It’s a simple way to make sure everyone is on the same page, and it allows you to document the conversation.
As an engineer, I have to make a lot of cold calls to find out information for clients. I still get flustered on phone calls, even when I’ve written out what to say, or at least have talking points in mind. The phone calls never go as planned. However, I’ve accepted that they never will, and that sometimes I will have to research more information and have a second call to hash out more details. I don’t enjoy calling someone that I’ve never met or talked to before, but I’ve accepted it’s an important skill to learn.
So how do you encourage your daughter to pick up a phone to call, instead of texting or emailing? Require her to do just that. Have her help you plan a party or an activity where she needs to call someone. Have her help order pizza for dinner one night, or help you schedule an appointment for her. If she wants to be involved in an activity, and needs to register, have her call and talk to a person. If she needs to contact a professional for a project for her class, have her call them. If she’s worried about interrupting them during the day, then have her email an introduction about her needs, but once she has introduced herself and has received a response, have her schedule a time to call this person; or, better yet, have her set up a time to meet this person (with the proper precautions, of course).
With enough practice, she will realize that she has nothing to be worried about when she’s calling someone. There’s no reason to be anxious that she will embarrass herself or say the wrong thing. We are all just human, and there is nothing scary about talking to each other. The earlier she learns this, the easier she will find it is to call a stranger. In our modern society, being able to carry on an actual conversation, as opposed to a virtual one, will better prepare her for the future.