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PLEASE THINK BEFORE YOU PHONE

Why Email and Texting is Usually More Efficient

If I decide I want to dial you up, I have no way of knowing whether you are busy, and you have no idea why I'm calling. 

Every time, we have a conversation to figure out whether it is OK to have a conversation. Plus, voice calls have a higher emotion-potential, which is why it's often so exhausting to be interrupted by one. And how about listening to voice-mails? How pleasant is that?

The telephone, in other words, doesn't provide any information about status, so we are constantly interrupting one another. Other tools (Instant messaging, texting, and email) are more considerate. Instant messaging lets us see whether our friends are busy without bugging them. Texting and email both let us ping one another asynchronously. Bonus: We can spend more time thinking about what we want to say.

With all the moaning about us becoming too busy and too wired, we are actually moving away from the demand that everyone be available immediately. This is a good thing!

This is an important point. One of the features of the "always on" society is the fact that we are actually ending up with better tools for managing our time  and the "old" way, telephone, is in comparison, usually less efficient. I say "usually" because I recognize there are definitely times when phone calls and face-to-face are orders of magnitude more efficient. Context!

I've gotten to the point where I will rarely answer calls that are not scheduled. I'm actually slightly surprised when someone calls me without first setting up a time to call.

As a software developer, sometimes I'm mystified when a client phones me out of the blue with a laundry list of changes they want made to their software. I think to myself, "Why are they assuming I'm at a computer and not busy with something else?" And "Do they not realize how inefficient this method is, compared to sending an email?" Or how about this simple concept:

- If I use the phone, what are the chances Scott is near a computer where he can address my issues?

- If I use email, the chances are 100% that Scott will be at a computer and able to address my issues. And bonus: there is a "paper" trail of the communication.

Finally, I do want to acknowledge there are plenty of situations where a phone call (or perhaps a face-to-face) is advantageous. For example, in a situation where either party might misinterpret words in a text or email to have negative meanings.
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