Pick up the damn phone
You're sitting at work, poring over all the enhanced sexual performance e-mail messages that arrived during your 10-minute coffee run, when, all of a sudden, there's an alarming noise from the telephone. Panic. Good Lord, you think - what's that loud noise all about? Quickly you pull the manual down from the shelf and rifle through it. Right there, page two: The phone will ring when there's an incoming call. This could be one of those incoming call things! You lunge at the receiver, but too late. Dial tone. Of course - the ringing noise. Next time you'll be ready. Oh well, back to e-mail.
Whoever was trying to call you was probably selling mattresses or mortgages, but at least she got something right. In the deluge of e-mail, the telephone has reacquired a kind of novelty. The significant things that happen, that aren't face to face, happen live with the human voice. There's less economy in a phone call than an e-mail message, but economy isn't a good thing when you want to connect with people. People appreciate effort, and the opposite of effort is e-mail. That five-minute call requires that you dedicate five minutes of your time to the person you're calling. You talk. She listens. She talks. You listen. It's an amazing thing, knowing someone's paying attention and the returning the favor. Amazingly rare, anyway.
The voice is the ultimate weapon in the war on anonymity and the best way to create a relationship. If you have a tenuous relationship, if you exchange five e-mails without one live call, if you are dealing with an important issue, or if you are trying to persuade someone of something, invest a few minutes in a live call. On the phone, you have a better chance of hearing the truth, complete with all of those editorial comments and undertones that separate humans from business idiots. If you really want to know, pick up the damn phone.