In case you haven’t heard the news, Millennials are notorious for killing cultural hallmarks. We killed napkins, Buffalo Wild Wings, diamonds… I could go on, but Mashable already put together a list of 70 things we killed. Honestly, I think that’s probably a big enough list.
But don’t worry, friends — the smartphone industry is alive and well, funded generously by my generation’s compulsive need to stare at a screen 24 hours a day. Despite our collective obsession, though, there’s one thing Millennials don’t like doing with phones: talking on them. Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers seem to be completely baffled by this trend. From my perspective, phone call aversion makes perfect sense. I hate talking on the phone, but I’ve only recently considered the reasons. Check them out to see if you agree!
Lack of Visual (or Text) Cues
When you chat with someone in person, it’s only natural to watch their body language and read their emotions. For instance, we might look for signs of boredom or impatience during small talk, so we know when to move on to the “meat” of a conversation. It’s also easier to read vocal tone when it’s paired with gestures, facial expressions, and physical context. All of this makes it difficult to interpret meaning over the phone. All of this isn’t particular to Millennials, of course — it’s true for everyone.
But why, then, do we Millennials prefer texting? Wouldn’t hearing tone of voice be better than nothing at all?
I’d argue that many of us honed our communication skills via text, whether it was over email, MSN Messenger (#throwback), or another messaging application. We learned to write in a way that made our tone and emotions clear. And in the case of professional communication, we avoid the ambiguity of emotion in our voices, and simply have it all written down in black and white. The level of expression is in our hands — or, rather, our thumbs.
According to a study by Joyable, 70% of Millennials experience social anxiety. The symptoms vary from person to person, but in my own experience, phone calls can be particularly stressful. The situation combines the lack of visual cues, as I mentioned above, with the fear of being judged on our speech. I’m not saying that all Millennials are actively terrified of the telephone. But if there was a better alternative — or rather, lots of better alternatives — to this form of communication, wouldn’t you use it?
The Time Commitment
Whether you believe in their work ethic or not, Millennials are busy people. And while phone calls seem like a quick, easy way to ask a question or resolve an issue, I’ve found that the opposite is often true. Phone calls require two (or more) busy people to be available to speak to one another at the same time. That’s not an easy feat, especially with many of us working remotely and juggling multiple jobs. Texting, on the other hand, is available whenever and wherever either party is free. While the conversation itself might take a bit longer, the elimination of “phone tag” is definitely worth the switch.
For those of you who agree with the time commitment piece but still love communicating by voice, check out Voxer! It’s a free app that works just like text messaging, but you send voice clips rather than texts. I haven’t tried it myself (since I personally prefer text) so let me know what you think in the comments!
Getting it All in Writing
One of the most common places in which Millennials are forced to make phone calls is the office. While some workplaces have begun to phase out the telephone, such as KPMG’s Canadian office, most still revolve around its use. Many important decisions are made over the phone. But unless you’re keeping detailed records of every single call, you end up having to get everything in writing after the fact anyway. Unfortunately, verbal agreements over the phone can sometimes end up being nothing more than a “he said, she said” situation. So rather than duplicating work, why not skip the middle man? Meet in person to sign documents, conduct business via email — even video conferencing can be more black and white! Get it in writing and avoid the hassle of a phone call.
Do you hate talking on the phone? Share your thoughts in the comments below!