This post was written in 2015, before I started working remotely, travelled the world and worked daily with people crossing timezones.
It STILL applies but is very a joking kind of article, and actually applies to both my personal and business live. Many of my friends feel similarly, they just haven’t posted it on their website.
Now almost 10 years later after originally writing this, most of it still applies, although the new generation of workers understand that phone calls are the last resort, not the first resort. Still, the post outlines plenty good reasons why I don’t pick up phone calls, and why I love messages and async communication so much.
I hope that it will help you understand my point of view, my values, and how I prefer to communicate.
1) Because I’m busy
What you are going to say is probably not more urgent than what I decided to do right now.
Whether I’m working or spending quality time with close ones, I hate being interrupted. Most people want to call me because it’s “more convenient” for them, but in most cases it’s not convenient for me.
This may make me sound like an arsehole, but I am sure all of my clients appreciate that when I am working on their projects, I am not letting other clients or sales calls interrupt and distract me. Focus is important.
Solution: If you have to tell me something really urgent, send me a message (preferably by SMS or email, btw), and you will probably call again later.
2) Because my calendar and info is on my phone
Many phone calls I receive are for planning a meeting, reviewing meeting notes, or asking me to do something. So unless I am in front of my laptop, the phone I am using for the call is the thing I need to use to access this information – except I’m on the phone to you.
Solution: Send me your availability in a message and let me come back to you with a time, or I will send you some times to choose from.
3) Because a call leaves no trace
When I discuss something over a phone conversation, the caller and I often take decisions. The problem is that the call leaves no trace of these decisions.
That’s why it’s good business practice to follow-up by email (or any persistant type of communication) to recap decisions and actions points after a vocal discussion. But then its just repeated work.
Solution: Instead of taking decisions on the phone and follow-up by email, it’s more efficient (in most cases) to exchange directly by email.
4) Because your communication is poor
Calling over the phone is a like showing up in someone’s office. It’s easy and convenient for the caller, because it’s immediate. Unfortunately, this immediateness increases the chance of the caller to thinking out loud, because he didn’t take the time to think before reaching out to the callee. I sometimes end up listening to a verbose and unclear phone call, or even an irrelevant one. In these cases, I lost the time that the caller should have spent refining his message. (This also happens when using Slack)
Solution: Writing an email is an opportunity to think about the message you want to transmit. Make sure that it’s clear and concise enough, if you want to increase the chances that your recipient reads and replies to it as expected. In some cases, you will realize that you don’t actually need to bother your recipient. Make the decision yourself.
5) Because it’s awkward
I am a global traveller, with different time zones, and work spaces to work in. You probably don’t know in which context I am at the moment when you want to call me. And this context may not be ideal for us to have a pleasant and productive conversation.
Solution: If you really need to have a phone call with me, and want me to talk to you in a comfortable context, please ask for a time slot before calling. (see reason #2)
6) Because my memory sucks
I have a terrible terrible memory, so a phone call is not a good way for me to remember you and your problems. I take lots of notes, but sometimes that isn’t enough. An email trail of who you are and how I can help really does help me more than a phone call.
Solution: Using email to introduce yourself and your project will help me remember you.
I hope that my reasons to not pick up your phone call make sense to you. Whether you agree or disagree on those reasons, I would love to read your point of view, opinion and/or additional suggestions, as comments on this article. Thank you for your consideration and understanding!