Don’t call it a comeback!

The phone…not the personal computing device you have in your hand there…I mean the dusty looking thing with cords and an actual handset made specifically to fit your ear and your mouth at the same time.  It’s strange this contraption, it sits perfectly in the crook of neck and oddly it doesn’t start dialing things when you have it to your ear and mouth simultaneously.  Rather it allows you to listen, to talk (with no static or choppy airwaves), and do this novel thing called communicating directly with another human being, live.

Okay, okay, to avoid being called out as a Luddite, we can admit that the iPhone gadget you have there will do the same but in our latest 6 Degrees of Associations conversation with Joan “JT” Tezak at the Colorado Society of Association Executives, we were pleased to find that one of the key new-ish behaviors she will continue even after the pandemic is declared over, is picking up the phone. It may seem simple but there are a few things to home in on when considering the real impact of such a small, perhaps even archaic, change in communication.

In a professional environment, before the pandemic, the phone was slowly going the way of the dodo.  If you used it, largely it served the purpose of conference call speaker.  Gone were the days of one-to-one phone calls, those got replaced with texts, emails, IMs, Slack messages, and if you were lucky, a chance meeting at the water cooler or a lunch date.  By all measures, these modes of communication do make work more efficient and can simplify messages when larger groups of people need to all learn something at once. 

But what happens when you are meeting for the first time or if you aren’t in the thick of the activity. If you are looking at member engagement, you need to consider how you reach those that may not be up for a game of Reply All, or the introverts out there that won’t jump into the conversation at the cocktail party, or even someone who shies away from technology as a form of building intimacy.  Don’t call it a comeback, it’s been here for years and we are betting that the phone may just make the cut for a few more years.  Here is why you should consider bringing it back:

A phone call is personal, it takes time, it requires you and one other person to focus on each other, to listen and then respond.

It builds rapport and cadence in a way that digital conversations can’t because a text can’t read your emotions, detect accents, and can’t create a cognitive connection based on the sound of your laughter.

The phone actually creates efficiency in its ability to speed up conversations and clarify meanings so that digital communications can be more effective.

And something that JT discovered, it improves other forms of communication and increases the chances for personal connections.  Once you have connected with someone on the phone, there is trust that is built creating space for more frequent conversation in other modes.  We have all been there, a long-lost buddy from college calls, you catch up, you recall how much you enjoyed talking and the next day sending a text with a picture of your child blowing out their birthday candles doesn’t feel so awkward or out of context, does it?

If a mobile device is all you have, go for it, we aren’t insisting you use a landline but take into consideration how nice, and even intimate, it feels when you are having a one-to-one conversation with someone with no interruptions due to signals cutting out, texts buzzing through, or the dreaded face-screen accidental hang up.  Returning to phone calls, just like JT has with her member ambassador program, can create surprising and new ways to attract new members and retain more inactive members.

Join us next week as we speak with Sheri Jacobs, President & CEO of Avenue M Group where we discuss the effects of doing social network analysis.  You may even learn how using a phone can help you access social networks you don’t have access to now.


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