How to Use the Phone

Shortly after publishing last week’s post, “Everything But the Phone…” I discovered some people don’t know how to use it. By “it” I mean the phone part of the smartphone. The part that’s used to dial another person’s phone number and have a conversation. While some people may not like using the phone to communicate, it never occurred to me that they wouldn’t know how. Using the phone to make a call feels like one of those foundational and rudimentary basic communication skills. Yet, I was listening to a consultant speak on the morning radio program about how he works with clients who don’t know how to make or receive calls.

This week I heard another radio segment of an interview with a Gen Z worker who also didn’t know how to use the phone. Or at least didn’t use it regularly. I think part of the challenge arose from having to speak to someone in real time without seeing them. I’m sure this is quite different from what the younger generation does.

I grew up with the phone being a primary form of communication, along with in-person interactions. Added to this was the analog version of social media, i.e., passing notes to one another. Some of the notes had very elaborate folding techniques. We used a wide range of paper options. We hand-wrote everything, since accessing computers with printers and typing messages was not the norm. I included a picture of these notes in one of my first ever blog posts “Getting Rid of Clutter.”

Even though how I use the phone has changed dramatically in many ways I’m not afraid to call someone. In fact, sometimes it’s even quicker, more efficient, and more convenient. For example, if I have to change a service or I need additional information. In these instances, I find the chatbots providing help are pretty useless.

However, on the personal side, I’m less likely to call a friend without first messaging to confirm they’re available. Another annoying habit I have is to follow up on a voicemail with a message or email. Replying in writing can sometimes be easier. People can receive, read, or respond to an email or message at any time of day. Whereas calls typically happen in a smaller timeframe.

It seems the phone, in some shape or form, is here to stay. So I better keep my skills honed.

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