While some people lament the notion that hand-written correspondence has all but disappeared, others may be nostalgic for actual sit-down conversations (another thing of a bygone era). But today I extol all that is wrong with even a more modern communication method: the telephone.

Once upon a time, people actually had conversations on the phone. In fact, I remember quite clearly as a child my mother shaking her head and saying that I shouldn’t use the phone just simply to use the phone, but when I actually wanted to have a talk with someone.

But not so anymore. For some, it’s an automatic reaction as soon as they get in the car: (if we’re lucky) the hands-free device goes in and the mobile phone goes on. For others, it’s a way to help ease the loneliness.

But where did the phone conversation go? Is it part and parcel with the fact that our lives are so jam-packed with a host of other things that we cannot actually sit down for 10 uninterrupted minutes and direct our attention to the person on the other end of the line?

And I have to bifurcate today’s thoughts, because the other half of the etiquette revolves around mobile phone conversations in the presence of company. Another thought for another day. But for now:

I am a bit annoyed about this. This has happened to me recently. And we’re all guilty of it, yours truly included. But the other day, it just got to me. I had just made a phone call to my Dad to check in on him and see how his recovery is going. It was a brief call, only a few minutes, but I could tell that he was distracted, not paying attention to me. I am adept at quickly ending those calls. And it’s quite funny how, when you then cut yourself off (because the other person isn’t really listening) and quickly wrap up and end the conversation, that the other party suddenly becomes 100% attentive to you.

A case of too little, too late.

But how many times have you found yourself typing away at your computer (answering an e-mail?) while talking on the phone?* Most often those conversations consist of you saying “uh huh,” “yeah,” “that’s interesting” at opportune silent points.

Or what about when someone you are trying to talk to is also carrying on conversations with the people he or she is with? Let’s be honest; everyone is getting shorted here.

So why don’t we give more attention to the people who phone us? After all, they are taking time out of their lives to actually find out about ours, so why not give them 10 minutes of our undivided and interested attention and actually engage in a reciprocal discussion and banter?

It’s sort of like my mom used to recall from someone in her family: answer the phone with a smile, the person on the other end will hear it.

*no person was ignored in conversation during the writing of this blog.


One thought on “Communication Etiquette, lesson I.

  1. Pingback: A Lost Cause (or, Food Junkie) « Thursday Morning Meditations

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