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Courtesy Call

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In a world of virtual connectivity, we work hard.  I’ll argue sometimes harder than necessary. We text, email, we send messages via social media, but many times the message does not get across the way we intend. 
You have your own personal examples of these but perhaps deeper proof is our exponential use of emojisJ (some of which I don’t understand and some of which I am now afraid to use in fear of them having a double meaning I don’t know about).
Many of these aim to soften the blow and remove offensiveness since non-verbal messages are less effective at carrying emotionality.   Additionally, many non-verbal messages require multiple attempts to get the full conversation completed. Ever send an email with multiple questions and receive the answer to one of them? It is a frustrating make work project, much of which can be saved by a phone call.
This is why I call it a courtesy call. Save my time and yours, spare your energy and mine.  Today a call seems so urgent and confrontational that we avoid subjecting ourselves and others to them. However, at the end of the day, the luxury of getting the true intended message across in less time and being given a chance to open conversational tangents is a right, not a privilege.  Also, a call is not permanently reproducible like other messaging, so perhaps you are doing the favour of keeping unnecessary permanent transcriptions.
For one day, I tried something. Limit all communication to only voice calls or in-person discussion. Here is what happened:
  • My recorded screen time went down by 25%
  • My phone battery didn’t drop below half as it normally does
  • I made a list of 8 items I believe I uncovered that were tangents during the calls (i.e., would not likely have been part of any email/text threads)
  • 1 of those tangents ended up giving someone a well-deserved pay increase!
  • Another tangent was a call to my brother where I ended up helping him with a significant challenge at work
  • Somehow, I even ended up on the phone with my mom on a week day, which never happens
  • The day felt productive and non-confrontational
  • The shocker: I had done all this by 3pm!
  • I had time to pick-up the kids at the bus stop and prepare a healthy supper
I will argue there were many other benefits I did not recognize and that there were problems I avoided that I will never know about.
Instead of unproductively typing throughout the day, inviting hundreds of distractions and leaving myself half-committed to everyone around me, the calls allowed me to fully focus on one task at a time and nail each down completely before moving on to the next.
Messaging and email certainly have their purpose, but I feel we are habitually favouring them and would benefit from trying a few more calls each day.
My new rules:
  1. If I cannot text it in under 30 words, give them a courtesy call.
  2. Assume every email I send will lead to 3 follow-up emails…still want to send it?
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