Like most people, I send dozens of emails a day. Pretty much anything that I work on can be dealt with using email. But is that always the right choice? Most of the time, the communication is simple and requires a simple answer so email is a good choice. Other times, emails fly back and forth, sometimes spanning an entire week, before any resolution. I’m shocked at how much time is wasted, and how much can be lost in translation. Email replies become long chains, hours become days, and progress is slowed to a crawl. Which begs the question.. why didn’t we just pick up the f*#@ing phone?
On March 10, 1876 (138 years ago!), Alexander Graham Bell successfully called his assistant, Thomas Watson and said, “Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you.” In that moment, he enabled us to make an instant connection, wherever we are, with anyone we want. We forget that the ability to make a phone call is something miraculous. The phone is still the way big business is done and how major deals transpire. Ask any investor, investment banker, or CEO and they will tell you that for most of the significant deals in their career, the telephone played a critical role in communication.
I get it — not everyone likes to talk on the phone. There are niceties to be exchanged, needless small talk, and awkward silences. However, if it’s important and time-sensitive, calling someone to hash it out is so much easier than the inefficiency of email. Countless times a month, I’ll challenge one of my employees who is having trouble making progress. I’ll simply ask “well, did you call them?” (What I’m really thinking is “why didn’t you pick up the f*#@ing phone?”)
Here are four situations where a phone call could accelerate your progress:
Situation #1: You are knee-deep in legal documents, and have gone through several iterations of changes. You’re sending ‘track changes’ back and forth with your comments, but neither party really understands the reasons for the changes.
Solution: Just pick up the f*#@ing phone. Spend one hour hammering out all the changes together and be done with it.
Situation #2: You’re working on a new business deal. You have a proposal in place, but there’s a significant gap in your partner’s understanding of the product. They are asking questions, but all of the questions are a little “off” because they don’t understand some basic things.
Solution: Just pick up the f*#@ing phone. In a matter of minutes, you can educate the partner about the product and get over this hump. Time is money so get on the phone and fast-forward the partnership.
Situation #3: You’re raising money for your startup, and you haven’t heard back from an investor who has expressed interest. How do you get a firm commitment?
Solution: Just pick up the f*#@ing phone. Raising money is a sales job, so do the hard work. Pick up the phone, call until you reach the person, and ask for the sale. I’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars just by picking up the phone and being persistent. You can too.
Situation #4: You’re hiring a new employee. After a few rounds of interviews and some internal conversations, it’s time to make the offer. Yes, you can send an offer by email, but you really want to convey how much you want them to join the team.
Solution: Just pick up the f*#@ing phone. Call and personally ask the person to be a member of your team. It will differentiate you from other employers and set the tone that you really care about them as a person. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference this makes in the final stage of recruiting.
SWAMI SAYS: Email is great for lots of communication, but sometimes the most efficient solution is to pick up the phone. Don’t hesitate to call someone to work out the hard parts, and leave the simple stuff for email. Make a personal and instant connection via phone, and watch how you much more you can get accomplished. Just pick up the fucking phone!
Matt Douglas is the Founder & CEO of Punchbowl.com. You can find this blog post, as well as additional content on his blog called The Startup Swami. You can aslo follow Matt on Twitter (@Mattdouglas) by clicking here.