The gift of communication often gets taken for granted, but I was suddenly feeling nostalgic when I spotted this old telephone in an antique shop recently. It flooded me with a million memories.
Spending my teenage years in a small rural town in Vermont, the phone felt like a lifeline to my friends from my youth group across other states. And it cost a fortune to talk with them. I would pull the cord as far as I could into a small “book room” in our farmhouse and talk endlessly. I suppose the joke I’ve made over the years that if my father hadn’t complained that I had “verbal diarrhea” and instead told me to use my penchant for talking in my work, that could have helped me find my professional speaking career decades earlier.
But I digress.
What I really started thinking about were three things;
Being Comfortable Communicating
First, being comfortable talking on the phone is an incredibly important skill and one I believe many of the younger generations really hate. They, of course, prefer to communicate by texting. I know it sounds ridiculous considering most people these days have a phone with them constantly but most people don’t even seem to use the “telephoning” part very much which I fear might soon become a lost skill of communication.
Just… Write them a Letter
This leads me to my second thought. In the “old days” if we didn’t get someone on the phone in real time – I was tempted to write IRL – we didn’t expect to get a reply from them perhaps even until the next day or after they heard our message an answering machine or a voice mail.
Too many employers expect that people will answer the calls (read text, email, etc.) at all hours of the day and night. It’s unacceptable in my mind. People need time off and a break from their work and this old-fashioned technology allowed us to have that. As a manager, I implore you not to EXPECT your employees will communicate with you one minute after their work day. That helps maintain the basic work/life balance.
As an Act of Kindness
Finally, placing a phone call is such a simple act of kindness. I had an elderly friend who lived into her 90s. We would see each other often but every Friday we made sure to have a phone call. Sometimes I called her and sometimes she called me. I swear the phone call never lasted more than 2 minutes. But it gave us BOTH the gift of communication each week. Enough time to just know we were both okay.
After she passed away, I missed those calls terribly. And I learned I wasn’t the only one she spoke to on Fridays. She had a very large family – three children, and many grandchildren. She talked to all of us on Fridays. I suppose like me when I was a teenager in Vermont, it was her lifeline.
A Miraculous Gift
A phone is a miraculous thing. Today, I am grateful for all that it’s provided in my life.
What memories does this old phone evoke for you? Join the conversation with us on LinkedIn.