The Best Phone Conversations Happen When Both Are in a Similar Physical Environment

If you travel a lot you tend to:

  • Make a lot of phone calls while on the road / in airports / on-the-go.
  • Cherish any stationary time you do have at your desk as an opportunity to undergo some focused, uninterrupted work.

I’ve noticed a tension that arises when I’m traveling and call someone who’s at their desk, or vice-versa. The person driving tends to be more chatty realizing that there’s not much else he could be doing while on the road. Meanwhile, the other person, at his desk, gets anxious about spending precious desk time — when he can be most effective on his computer or talking to office mates — on a phone call.

To wit, my theory of the day: The best phone conversations between two people of equal status happen when both are in a similar physical environment with equal productivity potential.

4 Responses to The Best Phone Conversations Happen When Both Are in a Similar Physical Environment

  1. Annie says:

    Agreed. I have a friend who looks forward to her commute because it’s when she gets her calls “done.” With very, very little else to do, she inevitably gets chatty.

    I also notice this imbalance when speaking with someone as they briskly walk through the city (out the subway, up the stairs, around the corner, down the street…). They tend to get winded, just enough so that the more sedentary person feels it’s best not to ask too many questions that require any worthwhile response. In short, speaking with someone while they do errands is a fast way to feel like second priority.

    Finally, I worked for a company where the CEO insisted on being included in all senior level conference calls. He did most of them from the treadmill. 260 pound man, RUNNING, wheezing and giving management feedback.

  2. Krishna says:

    Yup… But you hardly get that parallel unless the talk is pre-scheduled. [ Not even during the most predictable of hours – Caller may feel like it while lazing after a great night of sex and the partner had dozed off, the other may be struggling to get it up ;)

    To avoid embarrassments, why not just go with “is it a good time?”

  3. I would also add “similar time zone” to the list. When one person is in “early morning coffee wakeup mode” and the other is in “after work late night work call mode”, it’s hard to find the right rhythm for the call.

  4. Jon says:

    Awesome comments! Good laugh about the sex and the 260lb CEO.
    The time zone comment is valid as well and I would add that even an hour of difference can be trouble.

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