I often talk about the importance of live conversation and how much more can get accomplished using a simple phone call over a whole bunch of emails. I think many believe hearing a voice builds trust. I think so too. Mostly I like how we can complete an entire conversation in one phone call and I don’t have to wait to receive and respond to emails to get all the details. Lately though, I hate giving out my number – and here’s why:
- 9:00 phone calls: People who call after 9:00 because they know I’m home piss me off. I don’t even call my friends after 9:00, let alone business contacts. I don’t know anyone who likes to be bothered during their down time with business or solicitations. Calling me during my family time simply because you know I’ll be home to answer the phone, is the best way to have me reconsider our relationship.
- Dumb calls: I have no problem talking with people I wish to work or collaborate with. When they continuously call me for silly reasons I get annoyed. Asking questions about a job we’re doing together isn’t necessarily a silly reason. Calling me three times to confirm something I confirmed twice already makes me kind of cranky. I don’t like it when people feel that because I work at home I’m always available when the phone rings.
- Nothing else gets done: Last Thursday I had conference call day. I was on the phone from 10:00 until 3:00. I didn’t get dressed or take a shower, eat or go to the bathroom until the afternoon. Part of that was bad planning on my part, but the truth is, I can do other things besides talking on the phone. Mind you, I got a lot accomplished as a result of those phone calls, but no important personal stuff.
Again, my preference is to do business over the phone. I find it more productive. However, there are reasons I’m hesitant to give out my number.
Do you use the phone for business? What do you like or dislike about using the phone for business?
Andy Hayes says
Yes – the same goes for Skype’ing me too. I’m billable and doing client projects much of my day, and people don’t seem to understand that they probably wouldn’t their project being diverted for me to answer unsolicited calls!
.-= Andy Hayes´s last blog ..Photo Essay: Cool Bicycles – Bikes Around the World =-.
Michelle C. says
Eep, the 9:00 PM phone calls do sound heinous. Do things really need to get done that very second? Can’t it wait until the morning? Or at least be sent by email, to be dealt with as soon as the writer checks?
Out of curiosity, what do people think of giving a phone number on the internet (e.g. at your portfolio site)? I’m revamping my site at the moment, but I’m hesitant to give my number on a public page and risk crank calls for the rest of time.
.-= Michelle C.´s last blog ..Sample Travel Article: Akihabara =-.
Kelly McCausey says
I love the phone and prefer it 100% over email tag unless the issue is simple enough to explain in less than 50 words or so.
My strategy is to use a Skype In telephone number for business. This phone never rings, I just get a screen message about the incoming call. If I’m not expecting the call, I always let it go to voice mail so that I can screen it when I have time.
.-= Kelly McCausey´s last blog ..How To Spend Your Time =-.
Amy Harrison says
I prefer starting relationships via email because in the initial phase of a project I like to pin down my thoughts and I find it too distracting over the phone. However, once the relationship is up and running a phone call can definitely be powerful in tightening up communication and mopping up anything that might have been missed in an email.
.-= Amy Harrison´s last blog ..Queens Park Books Brighton Hiring for Website Project =-.
Laura Spencer says
Yep. These are valid reasons for not giving out your phone number for sure.
I definitely would suggest being cautious about who has your number. I do like to recognize that some people like the personal contact and I try to accommodate that–but only after a person has become a client.
People have criticized me for not including a number on my website, but if I did it would just basically be an answering machine that would collect messages for me to sort out later.
.-= Laura Spencer´s last blog ..Is Blogging Journalism? =-.
My solution was Google Voice. I was able to activate a phone number with my local area code and it forwards the call to my cell phone. The caller’s phone number shows up on my caller i.d. and when/if they leave a voice message, Google creates a transcript of the call and forwards that message to my email and as a text message on my cell phone. I can turn on/off the call forwarding whenever and it’s the ultimate tool for screening calls 🙂
That is a great tip, Lauren. Thanks!
However on the long end of things, I despise a ringing phone. If I had my way, I wouldn’t have one. I like the idea of Skype too, but haven’t used it for much more than chat.
.-= Pam´s last blog ..You Can Look Me Up =-.
P.S. Jones says
I’ve been using Google Voice for almost a year now, too. It makes me less wary about people having my phone number. And you’re right about being able to turn it off when I don’t want to talk right now. I also take advantage of the block feature for people I never want to speak to again. It tells them that my phone number is no longer in service. (Fortunately, this has only applied a very persistent wrong number who insisted that I met him at a party and gave him my number and promised him sexual favors. I laughed the first time and told him he had the wrong number. By about the third call, I was changing my settings to block him.)
I will not use any service provider that doesn’t provide a phone number for me to call. Nothing else to say.
Joe Taylor Jr. says
Like Rachel, I tend to avoid working with collaborators or vendors that don’t have public phone numbers listed. Not because I intend to call them at 3am, but because it assures me that there’s a live person who cares enough to give me the option of working that way when we need to.
That said, in my own practice, I’ve also resorted to using Google Voice to filter out calls from unknown callers. Between writing and other commitments, I have very few minutes each day to take unscheduled phone calls. My top five clients, the folks who I know and trust not to abuse that live link, ring right through. Everyone else gets a voicemail explaining why it might be faster to get to me via e-mail or Twitter.
I’ve found that being transparent about how I communicate helps me connect with my own ideal clients. Folks that like to call me five minutes after sending me an e-mail to ask me if I got the e-mail don’t end up lasting long on my roster. Google Voice’s transcriptions also make it faster for me to find out whether a phone call is from a real potential prospect or from a tire-kicker that’s just looking for unpaid advice. (Which I’m happy to dispense — just on my blog and not on the phone.) Better to filter them out up front than set expectations I can’t possibly meet.
.-= Joe Taylor Jr.´s last blog ..Why Professional Writers Need a Blog =-.
I hate the fact that many people want to phone! I’m hearing impaired and struggle with hearing when the other party has an accent or a quiet phone. Yet I don’t necessarily like giving that detail away, since hearing impairment is linked with poor English skills in many cases (for obvious reasons), and in my eyes, it sounds like a bad excuse for someone as young as me.
Grrr. I haven’t yet found a solution except to explain the situation.
I’ll do business over the phone if the client prefers that method of communication. Some people do prefer to use the phone or face-to-face conversation; it’s what works for them. I prefer email because it’s fast and easy; I have a record of the conversation. SKYPE also works for me as well.
.-= Rebecca´s last blog ..Don’t be Frightened to Pitch Your Ideas =-.
I HATE talking on the phone. It’s hard to express how much I dislike it. That’s not just clients, either–I’d rather email my mom, dad, sisters, and friends, too. The phone interrupts things, and I think more clearly in writing than I do in speaking. Also, I’m just a flat-out, over-the-top introvert–I’d rather not deal that directly with people I didn’t choose if I don’t have to.
However, I ALWAYS put a phone number on my communication with clients or prospective clients, and if a client wants to talk on the phone, then we talk on the phone. I have one client who likes to check in with me once a week, even though his requirements never change, so fine…one of us calls the other once a week.
Nancy Morgan says
As much as I hate talking on the phone (I’m a visual person) it is necessary for clients to have your phone number. If they call and you don’t feel like talking, let it go to voice mail and call them back when you’re in a better place.
Also, it’s a good idea to have a 1:1 meeting at some point, for coffee or lunch, whatever. I do like looking at someone’s eyes and demeanor–you can tell a lot about a person in face to face meeting.
I prefer emails 100% over the phone.
Nancy Morgan, New Dawn Ink
I tend to guard my 6 hours of work, and therefore despise getting on the phone with someone who could tell me the same thing in 3 seconds of email. I also hate having to talk to the publicists of my magazine profile subjects– I don’t want to hear your build-up. Just give me an appt with the guy. You’ve already impressed my editor, you don’t need to impress me, too! The interviews already a go!
.-= allena´s last blog ..5 Easy Ledes =-.
This goes back to your other current blog about “words and motives”. What I mean by that is, depending on the situation – especially an email conversation that has hit a wall for one party – then that party sees the phone as a way to more easily manipulate the other party. I always know when I’ve run into someone long-distance that wants to use the phone for exactly that reason – specially if they come from a day job where manipulating the public is essential to their job performance. Like for instance, a flight attendant, and naming no names here, although the one I have i mind comes to this forum once in a while and was instrumental in my leaving a city expert blogging position I had at Planeteyetraveler. Frankly, I always see that type of personality a mile out for what their agenda in wanting to “chat” is, and I shut that route off from them instantly. The other type of wannabe phone chatter is the publicist who has an agenda that requires a phone call to insert their own next step in control over a story. It’s easier to do because they, too, have learned how to be manipulative in their background and training and think they can browbeat you into accepting their terms. They want a cover, they want this mentioned, they don’t want that mentioned, they want guarantees of the story appearing before a certain date. Although I work in travel, my only extensive experience with this type of personality in travel PR is one who migrated herself from entertainment to travel publicity and brought along her tactics with her. What works as standard behavior in one field doesn’t necessarily translate well over in another field and the other coast. People who imagine they’re smart in terms of being cunning phone manipulators lose sight of the fact that often they’re spotted early, early on for who they are and what’s behind their need for phone time with you.
Both forms are needed. But I tell contacts, interview subjects, etc., that it’s best to e-mail me first to set up a time for a call…otherwise they’re likely to waste their time because I’ll be on the phone. I get annoyed when I tell someone that and they call anyway, and when that happens, I will let some annoyance show in my voice (unless a good client).
That being said, some communications are best handled on the phone, particularly when there needs to be a discussion…no I’m not going to e-chat or IM, because then people will continue to contact me that way, and I will not be tethered to an IM account.