By Shauna Gold
Millennials’ addiction to our phones is unparalleled and much maligned. We live our entire lives via smartphone, from buying toothpaste to running a business. But their original purpose – talking – has become just another unused app. Fully 75 percent of millennials prefer texting to talking. Technology may have made the fine art of conversation an optional skill, but it’s still one worth mastering.
Practice Makes Perfect
The number one reason we never talk on the phone is that we never talk on the phone. When you’re not used to doing it, it gets intimidating. This is exactly why you should make more calls. The only way past phone awkwardness is through it.
When you get in the habit of speaking on the phone, you’ll feel more self-assured, which will come across in your voice and make you naturally more persuasive. As a bonus, you’ll also be more confident when it comes to speaking up in person or in front of a group. A lot of women have trouble with this, so if you can become a confident speaker, you’ll set an encouraging example for other women and girls.
Take Care of Business
As much as we try to avoid it, nothing beats the phone when it comes to getting things done. You can spend a frustrating week exchanging vague, confusing emails with someone, or you can pick up the phone and figure out what’s going on in five minutes. Some people just don’t express themselves well in writing, or their flakiness draws out the interaction way longer than necessary. If I realize I’m staring at the screen trying to figure out how to even turn my confusion into a question, it’s time to make a call.
Phone calls allow you to increase the human element of business interactions, and not just because it makes you feel warm and fuzzy – it makes you more effective. This guy I used to work for was a straight-up phone wizard. A vendor or sponsor would email him mad as hell (we worked in marketing, it happened a lot) and he’d give them a call. Twenty minutes later, they would be best friends, and we’d have a new sponsorship deal. When you talk to someone on the phone instead of email, it’s a lot easier to show them you’re human, find common ground, and get them on your side.
No, You Hang Up First
In a world of noncommittal texting, ghosting, and Netflix and chill, if somebody calls me on the phone and asks me out, I am inclined to say yes for that reason alone. It’s a classy move. While I’m not always bold enough to ask a guy out, I do like to call someone I’m seeing to make plans or just talk. Especially if it’s a new and tenuous romance, a casual phone call helps break the ice and cuts through all the texting drama and defensiveness. When I text, I try to impress with bons mots. When I talk on the phone, I flirt and laugh. It changes the dynamic.
Plus, when you don’t know someone that well and aren’t used to each other’s sense of humor, it’s easy to misinterpret texts. That is to say nothing of autocorrect.
You Can Multitask
Texting is way less efficient than people think it is. Not only can most people talk faster than they type, but talking on the phone also lends itself better to multitasking than texting, which requires your hands and eyes as you type, retype, and search for emojis. There are limits (ever been on the phone with your friend and heard the toilet flush?) but a phone call is a great time to clean up around the house or work on your fitness.
Have a Moment
You may only be tempted to call your parents when your life is going sideways, but regular phone calls just to say “hi” can help you form stronger personal connections. The more time I spend communicating with people online and via text, the more special and comforting it becomes to hear the voice of someone I love. And nobody appreciates this more than the people who are older than us, who grew up at a time when calling was how you showed someone you were thinking of them and enjoyed a moment together. So call your mother. And not just from jail.
Bring Back Voicemail
If millennials hate talking on the phone, we really hate voicemail. We’re mystified by how to set it up and check it, and it often seems simpler, when we get someone’s voicemail, to hang up and send a text. But voicemail still serves a purpose, which is communicating with annoying family members.
If you want to check in with your parents but don’t want to be trapped hearing about the neighbors’ noisy construction project for 45 minutes, or you still just feel awkward talking on the phone, call when you know they won’t pick up and leave a voicemail. It’s still more personal than a text, but doesn’t monopolize your lunch break.
Talking on the phone may not be your favorite thing in the world, but it’s still a good adult skill to have in your wheelhouse. It makes communication more human, more immediate, and often more effective than texting or email. It can even elevate your flirting game. Next time you have something to say, try picking up the phone. You might find you actually like it.
Image Courtesy of Antoine Barrès
Shauna is a writer based in Boise, Idaho. Her interests include frittata, ‘60s soul, and finding new ways to injure herself outdoors. She also enjoys expensive cocktails.