Saturday, January 22, 2011

Phone Calls: The New 'Dropping in Unexpected'?

I know I'm probably going to get a lot of flak for this but here goes... 

Maybe I'm not rude for ignoring your impromptu phone call. Maybe you're rude for thinking I'm rude for not answering.

Let me explain.

I have a lot of friends, family members, and colleagues who get frustrated with me for not picking up the phone when it rings. But here's the thing - when you call unexpectedly, it's an interruption. Whether I'm working on a project or eating a meal, picking up the phone requires me to stop what I'm doing and make you the priority. Now, herein lies the problem. Without a heads up, I have no way of knowing how important your phone call is. Chances are, unless it's an emergency, it can wait. In fact, the vast majority of phone calls I've missed over the years have been far from urgent. It just so happens that the calls were on your terms; when it was convenient for you. Yet, I'm often considered the rude one.

This does not mean that I hate talking on the phone. I'd simply like some prep time. I want to make sure you have my full undivided attention when we engage in conversation. I'd rather not be in the middle of typing up a proposal or chewing a mouthful of food. If your call happens to be an emergency, there are plenty of other ways to let me know. The phone is not the be all end all. In fact, it's far less of an "in your face" method of communicating when compared to IMing, text messaging, or even emailing.

This also does not mean that I hate random phone calls. Sometimes they're nice and I really appreciate them. All I'm saying is - don't get mad at me if I don't pick up.

Years ago, there was no caller ID. People had no choice but to pick up every phone call because they had no idea who was on the other end. However, times have changed. We're now presented with information before we pick up the phone that helps inform our decision to answer. It's an adjustment we need to make.

Communication is ever-evolving. Think about it, before the phone, if you wanted to talk to someone, you'd go to his/her house and knock on the door. It was acceptable because there was really no other immediate way to get in touch. Nowadays? Not so much. Do you really want your mom to ring your doorbell in the middle of a steamy lovemaking session? Not so much. "MOM! Why didn't you call first?"

Well, now the same goes with the phone. Why didn't you text/IM/email first?


Sharon said...

Completely true, I wish more people would understand this!

Anonymous said...

You should go back to owning a beeper!

Boschii said...

SO here is my two

On some level I might agree with you...because I suspect that people don't utilize txt or email to full advantage for instance...if it is NOT important but I just need to get a message to someone I will txt....this way..when it is an emergency and only a phone call will do...then when the person sees my number on the caller ID...they will know it is important...and while I don't necessarily expect that they must answer right at the moment...I would hope that they would call me back....JOE! teasing...I don't think I have actually ever called you except to say I am running late but on my's funny (not) is that all the yourself ...who now still have the dexterity to type out text messages...will have problems with that as they get older....arthritis is a bitch...and there is no generation that has aged with the prospect of arthritis in the age of the smartphone ...but then I guess they could graduate to a tablet?'m done babbling now...

Eva Moran said...

Just to let you know that giving birth was also an inconvenience. It happened when you were ready.... not me. So I guess I see your point, I think????

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