Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I Know When That Hotline Bling...

Confession: all my life I have tried my best to avoid phone calls like the plague.

I don't know what it is, but I have never particularly enjoyed talking to people on the phone. I can't even tell you how many times I have let a friend's call ring through to voicemail then texted back a little while later claiming that I was "too busy" to talk. Then I got to college, and things started to change.

Last semester, while working on a documentary that took place in New Orleans, I had to quickly get over my fear of talking on the phone. I realized that if I want to be a documentary producer,  I need to pick up the phone and start making calls like my life (or at least my project) depended on it. I've always been fine with talking to people face to face, in fact I love building connections and learning people's stories, but I think making important phone calls is a skill set that needs to be learned.

I've spent courses in school where we learn how to conduct an interview, I've gone to workshops where we learn how to handle ourselves in a meeting or presentations, but that all changes a bit when you get on the phone. Why? Because body language has been eliminated from the equation. Can they hear me? Do they care? Am I talking too little? Too much? The answers to a lot of those questions can be solved by observing someone's body language, but on the phone you just can't tell.

I'm starting to learn some techniques to feel people out in a phone conversation, but I still don't feel like a master yet. If given the option, I would choose face-to-face or email every time, but I'm getting there. Slowly but surely I'm learning to embrace calling people, but I just need to know one thing: do other people share this weird fear of phone conversations or am I the only one?

1 comment:

arturo said...

No one is the "only one" of anything, as you can imagine. I have a couple of ideas trying to get out; one is that, first of all, telephone is a rather young technology, just a blip of years away, my grandmother never had or used one, so she lived with what she had. For her generation, tele-phone was an invention as popular and later on needed for everyday interaction with others, no technology exists in isolation. After that I am sure some people did not like it or even saw the need for it.
Marshall McLuhan stated that the medium is the message and we either accept the message or not. Sometimes of course communication becomes an issue of life and death and we will resort to what is at hand or if not use smoke signals or rays of the sun with a mirror, or the sound of drums that travel long enough distances carried by the wind, and so forth.
I think that the computer, living under whatever shell you choose, today a "smartphone" tomorrow information delivered directly to our brain for whatever purpose the controllers of the message (the medium, remember?) desire. Young people born with this technology as the normal are trained to communicate in a manner more practical for the system to use. Time stamped text and geolocated video and geolocated pictures are better witnesses and more data friendly than audio, precisely because understanding the nuance of vibrations that contain meaning in the human/animal voice are harder to understand. Give it some time.