Ooma Blog

Two big ways phone calls can boost your productivity and save you time

By |Monday January 9, 2023

Have you ever sent a colleague a text that was misinterpreted? You can end up volleying messages for an hour before one of you gives up and says “lemme call you.”

Texts and emails may be convenient, but sometimes they can drain your productivity and cause frustration. It turns out the simple phone call may still be the best arrow in your communication quiver. Here’s why.

Avoid the back and forth of email and text

Text-based communication like messaging and email can be a great way to quickly send off information and get back to work. It helps you cut down on distractions and takes seconds to minutes. Better yet, you don’t have to deal with someone else. Initially, it’s one sided.

However, we’ve all been in group chats or email threads where you’re going back and forth with someone. The lack of tone in a text or email can make it easy for people to misunderstand what you’re saying. Frankly, texting and email just isn’t for every situation, and complicated topics may be better dealt with on a phone call.

Let’s say you’re planning for a big presentation, and you send off the plan to your colleague. They respond and make a point about how there’s something missing, so you ask what it could be. They then spend the time to write out a big email and send it back, so you spend time reading that long email, then considering how to respond before typing out your response to their response.

All of this in between a flood of emails from other people for other things. Communicating with a co-worker shouldn’t feel like a tennis match, hitting responses back and forth for an hour until you come to an agreement.

Instead, simply schedule a short phone call with them to clear things up. You will likely solve an issue that takes numerous emails in around 15 minutes. Hearing someone’s voice gives you a better sense of their emotions, which can help you better respond. Plus, a phone call means neither of you have to wait while the other finely crafts a response. The longer you wait, the more time you have to misinterpret the true feelings of the messenger.

Ditch the video and increase focus

But what about video calls, you may be wondering? Now that we can video conference, isn’t that the best way to communicate with people? Well, despite conventional wisdom, it may be more distracting than you realize.

In 2017, Michael W. Kraus and colleagues of the Yale School of Management researched ways we communicated with each other. In five experiments, they put voice-only communication up against vision-only and voice-and-vision communication to question whether our faces were the primary role in communication.

The result? Voice-only communication was found to increase empathic accuracy. The reason is two-fold: One, people tend to be good at keeping their emotions from showing up non-verbally, but it’s much harder to shield emotions from your voice. Second, the more information we have, the less focused we are. Voice-only allowed research participants to hone in on “linguistic and paralinguistic vocal cues that accompany speech.”

That basically means that without being distracted by scanning someone’s face, we’re able to better pick up on tone and intent in someone’s voice. So if you’ve got some important information to discuss with a colleague, consider calling them instead.

Not only can phone calls help you increase your focus with your co-workers, leading to increased productivity, they can help you avoid the time suck of replying to a barrage of emails and quickly resolve potential issues before they arise.

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