Are phone skills a thing of the past?

Many people in their 20s or early 30s simply hate the phone, but one intern sees the value in communication over the horn.


Over the summer, while I worked at Communiqué PR full time, I would receive upward of 40 emails a day, and I was just an intern.

Email is one of the most commonly used forms of communication, because large amounts of information must be shared in very little time. Everything from scheduling to pitching to advertising can be done through email.

With a strong emphasis on technology and efficiency in today’s world, email appears to be everyone’s favorite mode of communication. What does this mean for other methods of communication, such as the telephone? Is it a device of the past that will soon be forgotten?

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about the decline of phone use in the world of business. Millennials, typically defined as people born between 1981 and the early 2000s, often prefer text messaging or email over picking up the phone. Offices seem to be quieter, with the constant ring of the telephone replaced by the gentle tapping of a keyboard.

Some would argue that speaking on the phone is disruptive and email is not only the preferred way to communicate but the only way they choose to converse. Kevin Castle, a 32-year-old chief technology officer at Technossus, finds his phone so bothersome that he unplugs it and places it in the closet. Is the phone so inferior to email?

I do not share the same hatred for the phone that Castle does. Though I regularly use email and find that it is beneficial in its own way, I do think the phone offers benefits that emails do not. I have always enjoyed speaking to people on the phone because it is more personal, easier to convey your message, and is more efficient when you are on deadline.

This summer I did my first set of call-downs. We had pitched a story to a large number of journalists, and I was asked to follow up with them a few days later. Though I was intimidated before I began, I found that most people were direct and honest about their interest or lack thereof in the pitch, helping me to quickly determine what the next step would be.

During this process, I reached one journalist who expressed interest but had never received the initial email. It turns out his email address had not been updated on the website. Had I not called, we would have missed an excellent opportunity for our client.

After that experience, I realized the importance of the phone. It is easy to get wrapped up in technology and forget that the phone, is still an effective mode of communication.

After staring at a computer screen for much of their day, most people appreciate the personal interaction that the phone provides. It helps you build relationships and catch or head off errors that other technologies might will not.

Obviously, there are situations in which email is the better method to use, however, phone skills should continue to be developed and practiced because the phone is a valuable tool that should be relied on and not forgotten.

A version of this story originally appeared on Communiqué PR’s blog.

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