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From Picking Up the Phone to Email and Scheduled Calls: The New Norm of Convenience Over Personal Connection

November 7, 2023

Man, has the use of the phone and talking to business people when you’d like to talk to them changed in the last forty years.

We used to pick up the phone to call a client, fellow lawyer, accountant, banker – or even a doctor. If they were not available, we left a voicemail and got a call back by the end of the day. If it was urgent, we asked someone if they could slip a note in front of the person and let them know you were on hold.

I wanted to call an officer in a large customer of ours apologizing for a mistake we made. I have no way to get her number and calling the main number of a multinational company gets me no where.

I remember calling the CEO of US Bank one evening. His sevcratary answered and let me he was on a flight and that someone would call me in the morning. They called about six. They were not a client, but a landlord with whom I had a problem.

I asked OpenAI’s ChatGPT if the world has changed in regard to the phone, business relationships and the like. I got a pretty good answer, one I pretty much agree with.

“Business life has undergone a significant transformation from 1982 to the present day, primarily due to advances in technology and changes in communication practices.

In 1982, business was highly relational, with a strong emphasis on direct and personal interaction. Picking up the phone to call colleagues, clients, and partners was the norm, fostering immediate dialogue and decision-making. This method of communication allowed for nuanced conversations where tone and intent were clearer, and relationships were strengthened through these personal interactions.

Fast forward to the current era, the landscape is vastly different. Email has become the backbone of business communication, providing a written record of exchanges and allowing for asynchronous conversation. It’s more convenient for information sharing, especially with the inclusion of attachments and links, but it can sometimes lack the personal touch and immediacy of a phone call.

Moreover, the rise of digital calendars and scheduling tools has formalized the process of making phone calls, often requiring appointments to be set in advance. This shift reflects the busier and more structured nature of today’s business environment, where time is tightly managed, and interruptions are less welcome. The spontaneity of a direct call has given way to planned interactions.

The move from spontaneous calls to scheduled ones also indicates a change in workplace boundaries and the value placed on uninterrupted work time. While these changes have brought about increased efficiency and organization, they have also altered the way relationships are built and maintained in the business world, making them less about personal connection and more about convenience and documentation.”

Forget the personal approach to business and life. We’re looking for convenience and documentation.