I always answer my phone.
I’m charmed by the fact that this surprises people.
In fact, the other day someone called, and I answered. He sounded shocked. “Is this really Dr. Weiman!?”
“it is,” I replied.
“I don’t know what to say,” he said. “I was expecting to have to leave a voicemail message.”
After we worked through, together, the shock that anyone answers their own phone anymore, we had an excellent conversation about a business issue. At the end of the call, as often happens, he thanked me again for answering my own phone.
I am amazed that we live in a world where simply answering the phone surprises and delights people.
The state of customer service and most businesses is so bad that many people simply cancel accounts, subscriptions, and services, rather than deal with complicated voicemail systems and other hoops created to avoid, at all costs, person-to-person interaction.
As a psychologist, I am acutely aware that the person to person interaction that so many companies are seeking to avoid, is precisely what so many people in life are looking for. And rightfully so.
As a management consultant, I am also aware that many of the tools that we are currently using in an effort to save time actually cost time. For example, many of us, and I am guilty of this myself, reflexively respond to e-mails instead of picking up the phone. Unless you are a touch typist, or a medical transcriptionist, you probably talk faster than you write. Nevertheless, many of us hunt and peck our way through replies instead of doing the person-to-person thing and picking up the phone.
Not only do we wind up wasting time by typing instead of talking, but we communicate less by doing so. How many times have you had to — in an additional e-mail — clarify what you wrote to somebody because they just didn’t get it the first time?
I made up my mind some time ago to err on the side of picking up the phone to make a call instead of using e-mail as a follow-up tool.
I encourage everyone to do the same.
In fact, I encourage everyone to answer their own phone, too, perhaps just a little bit each week, to see what you might be missing. You might be surprised at what happens, or at who you may delight.