Sorry, No Calls

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Sorry, No Calls

 

The following is an article inspired by my earlier article, MustSayNo.com, which has literally been life-changing for me.  Also, a quick apology for the somewhat self-indulgent nature of the article.  I like to think that I'm not a complete schmuck because I do have a tough time saying no.  Thanks for your understanding.

Dear Friend,

I know you've asked to setup a "quick call" to chat.  Could be just an introductory "get to know you" call, or you might just want to catch-up, or there's a specific question or topic you have in mind.

Sorry, but I don't take phone calls. I hate them. My aversion borders on the pathological.

You will find this surprising and abnormal (because it is), but in a given year, I'll usually have < 15 non-personal phone calls. I often go weeks and weeks without a single call (joy! bliss!) When I do have them, I have to emotionally prepare myself. And, just so you know, I have a tough time with personal calls too, much to the disappointment of my mom and dad, who live in India.

Hence, this article, which you can find at SorryNoCalls.com (domain setup to make it easy to reference. I might even print it on my business cards some day).

Why I Hate Phone Calls

Here are the reasons why I hate phone calls so much. The snips shown below are from an absolutely fantastic comic titled “10 Reasons To Avoid Talking On The Phone” by Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal. I've pulled the few segments that particularly resonated for me.

1. I don't like synchronous communications.

A phone calls is a synchronous conversation. It breaks up my day and interrupts my flow. That's why I much prefer email, which I can “batch up” and do all at once, at my leisure and on my schedule. Handling things asynchronously also allows me to be more thoughtful about my response and match my degree of response to the importance of the situation. On a phone call, it seems rude to go into a long, detailed diatribe (even though the situation seemingly warrants it), because the other party doesn't have an easy way to “fast forward” (or skip). With email, I can write up my thoughts, get into detail if I want, with the knowledge that if the other person's not as interested as I thought, they can just move on.

2. I hate making small talk. 

 


no calls small talk

Even when it's in person, small talk is difficult. On the phone, it's even harder.

I'm an introvert. Not somewhat of an introvert. A complete introvert. And from what I've heard, it's not uncommon for introverts to not like small talk. I'm not sure exactly why that is for other introverts, but for me it's because it feels fake and I can't figure out what the right level of small talk is to be polite. I constantly feel awkward when I'm engaging in small talk, because I'm constantly trying to figure out in the back of my head, when it's OK to move into the “real” conversation.

3. I have a really hard time saying “no”.

 


no calls cant say no

In many business conversations, someone's often selling and someone's often buying. Over the years, I discovered that if I'm on a call, I'm usually on the “buy” side. And, I'm terrible at saying no generally, but particularly bad doing it in real-time, especially when I can't see the other person. (You'd think it'd be easier to say no when the other person can't see you — but surprisingly, that's not true for me).

4. I'm pathologically polite, and just can't get the timing right.

 


no calls disjointed

When on a phone call, it feels like I'm always doing this delicate dance between trying to make sure there's not the dreaded period of silence that lasts too long — and the equally dreadful experience of inadvertently interrupting someone. I do this particular dance very poorly, know I do it poorly, and as such am self-conscious about it, and so end up doing it poorly. Vicious cycle.

5. I'm absolutely terrible at ending a call. 

 
no calls goodbye 

So, to summarize, sorry no calls. It's not you — it's me. I know you're probably not trying to sell me something. You're probably really good at having a normal phone conversation (like most people), so you think I'm exaggerating how I feel. Trust me, I'm not.

Please accept my apologies for having this strange eccentricity.

And, a word of thanks to my friends, family and colleagues.  They've learned to accept this weakness of mine and don't take it to heart.  I'm also thankful for the modest success I've had so far whereby I can design my life around my pecularities.  

Tips if you're like me:

1. I find it much less troublesome to schedule a call than just randomly answer the phone.

2. Setup a separate phone number (using something like Google Voice) which you only give out to folks you've scheduled a call with.  You can program Google Voice to show the dialed number as caller ID (instead of the person calling).

3. To avoid the awkwardness around small-talk, try to outline what the topic of the conversation is going to be.  It makes you feel less guilty for transitioning into the purpose of the call.

4. Use email to get your high-level thoughts communicated first, and then use a phone call to add a personal touch or to have a higher bandwidth conversation.

5. Make it a firm policy to never say yes to something on the call.  Always give yourself some time to think about it.  I will often tell people that I never make a buying decision on the phone -- and that they should follow-up via email.  

6. Change the outgoing message on your voicemail letting people know that the preferred way to reach you is by email.  Thankfully, this stops many telemarketers.

7. Remember that it's your life and you get to decide some things.  If your work or personal life requires phone calls, that's cool.  But, I think over 90% of the calls you'd normally take you are not obligated to take.  We use the phone out of habit and because we think we have to.

So, what about you?  Do you share my aversion for phone calls?  Or, are you a smilin' dialin' phone callin' machine?  What's your take?

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on Tue, Nov 20, 2012

COMMENTS

Dharmesh,  
 
Thank you for this. I know that many people equate maxing out your phone bill with hustling and productivity but more often than not, I feel that the phone call really gets in the way of my day to day activities.  
 
It's like driving a car at 60mph for hours on end, only to pull the e-brake on the highway!  
 
That's exactly what it feels like to me when I jump on a phone call...does that mean I'm a bad person?!  
 
Thanks again Dharmesh and great meeting you last week at FounderCon.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10:28 AM by Drew Frey


I'm sorry but this is an incredibly disappointing article that reflects how we as a culture are shifting toward a passive aggressive, non spontaneous culture that lacks life and focuses on consequences rather than opportunity.  
 
I applaud you for being honest with yourself as an introvert, but without hearing someone's tone you can drastically misunderstand the message. And, as opposed to you being afraid to say no so you just don't talk to people, challenge yourself to become better at being a direct communicator.  
 
I love to write, but I love to talk to people a hell of a lot more. Without that interaction it sucks the life out of... life.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10:30 AM by Tim Yandel


Did you get permission from The Oatmeal (theoatmeal.com) to use these images? If so, you should make some sort of acknowledgment in your article. If not, you should remove these images.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10:30 AM by Piker


Dharmesh- 
Caller Id for the mobile phones has really helped. I am not quite as introverted, but do have some of the same aversions to the call. However, as an upstart Inbound Marketing Agency, it is often times necessary, if not critical to have those phone conversations. However, I also have many media reps and sales reps who call consistently. So, I have to be somewhat selective on when I take those calls. If I am not selective and I choose to take every call that comes in, I will NEVER get anything accomplished in my day. Great Article.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10:57 AM by Jared Broussard


Let's face it. Receiving anonymous calls from someone you don't know personally, is in IMHO one of the most annoying things i have ever seen. Time worth more than everything these days. It is not a strange eccentricity, it's a way of thinking.  
 
-Max

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 11:02 AM by Maximiliano De Muro


Funny Stuff. Ever since some introvert entrepreneur averse to taking sales calls created this thing called Inbound Marketing, my greatest joy now is the inbound sales calls or online order.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 11:05 AM by Noel


Tim Yandel - I applaud Dharmesh for adapting his work style to his strengths and weaknesses. It shows great self-awareness, and I'd bet it's a big contributor to his success. Life's too short to do things we don't enjoy doing. Some of us are extroverts and some are introverts, and neither is objectively better than the other. There's a great TED Talk by Susan Cain called "The Power of Introverts" that's well worth watching: http://on.ted.com/Cain

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 11:05 AM by Akira Hirai


Do I have an aversion for phone calls? It depends. I have the utmost aversion if it is from telemarketers and salesmen unless I asked to be called. But from friends and family, I would rather get a phone call than an email.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 11:06 AM by Gopal Shenoy


Dharmesh, 
 
I agree with a previous poster about your "disappointing" article. It is indeed disappointing. In the future,I'd recommend only discussing your personal pathologies with your chosen therapist. Nice use of copyrighted material too!

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 11:17 AM by Alan Bennington


Sorry that a couple of you were disappointed with the article. I'm admittedly atypical on this particular front and as it turns out, I'm not alone. 
 
In terms of the images from The Oatmeal, I linked to the original both in the introduction and from every individual image clip. I'm a huge fan of Matt's, I'm hoping he doesn't mind and that this would be considered "fair use". Not looking to profit from his genius, just trying to share it with some more people.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 11:28 AM by Dharmesh Shah


You seem to have blatantly plagiarized art from The Oatmeal, found at http://theoatmeal.com/comics/phone 
 
Perhaps worse, the end result doesn't even build on the original ideas. Just link to The Oatmeal page, give them proper credit, and sum up your own feelings about it without the plagiarism. 
 
You don't deserve the credit you're receiving for this post.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 11:34 AM by Rob


Dharmesh - Honestly, I'm just not getting the point of your post. Can we have a quick call to chat about it?

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 11:35 AM by Jeff Bussgang


This is, IMO, NOT fair use. This is just what fair use is not intended to protect. Your use is not: 
 
- transformative. You are instead just borrowing the humor into your own blog. You are exploiting. 
 
- historically publically important. 
 
- insubstantial. You have taken a substantial part of this one web comic. 
 
- obviously non-harmful. It could be argued this is harmful to the Oatmeal because it conflates your personal opinion and suggests a connection between The Oatmeal and your blog. 
 
- commentary on the work, journalistically or criticism-wise. Instead, you just appropriate it. 
 
- research or teaching. 
 
Etc. This is just plain LIFTING without permission.  
 
How would you feel if someone took that much of your blog post and put it on their own blog to "sell" that post? 
 
Either get permission or take 'em down.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 11:48 AM by cm


So phuni! 
I always have the same challenge and the best solution was scheduled call/skypes. 

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:16 PM by Nader Mah


I believe it is ESSENTIAL to be able to communicate well. 'Well' is not good enough in this type of modern workplace and in this day of 'not enough time' in an 9 hour work day? 
Calls need to be short and sweet, clear, crisp and concise in order to expand your human and business network. Email can only go so far if your trying to close a deal or sell your company's benefits for a ROI on advertising for ex..  
This article is conveying the wrong image to young professionals coming into the work force-next we will be 'Tweeting' good morning and good night to our co-workers whom sit next to us. 
C'mon pick up the phone and know what is urgent vs. important vs a'junk'call.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:24 PM by Joe Mack


Just brilliant and funny! I mean, it is true. I have calls myself. My communication is mostly done via email or face to face. Most of the time business phone conversations seem awkward and a waiste of time :) great sense of humor and style in writing your post! Thank you!

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:26 PM by Masha


Whew! You are getting blasted on this post. E'body calm down.  
 
The short of it...I'm an introvert and think the phone is the BEST means of communication. Email is often effective in many ways but I get very frustrated with a generation of people (I'm 35) who won't pick up the phone to call and get things done.  
 
That said, my wife is totally the opposite and would rather not talk on the phone ever - except to me. And I'd say she's waaaay more productive than me :) 
 
CB

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:27 PM by Chris Byers


I am not trying to be rude - but have you tried to get help? I can imagine non-personal calls being an issue but if personal calls are becoming difficult than I am not really sure if that's completely normal. My wife is not comfortable on the phone but overtime she has got better - the less she thinks about it the more confident she gets.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:29 PM by Rahul Dighe


Wow, I feel exactly the same. I'm a designer and front end developer. In person or even on the phone people consider me an extrovert but inside on the phone at least I'm am an incredible introvert. The thought of phone calls is the same feeling as public speaking on a stage. I own my own company, and to get large clients I simply need to be able to handle calls when they desire them so I've learned to accept that. But what bothers me is calls for the sake of calls. Often the information could be done by email in a matter of minutes but instead a conference call is scheduled, lots of small talk, awkward interruptions, everyone answering each others easy questions like, you need the user name right? Yes I need the username. Ok well after this call I'll email you the username. Then everyone spends 10 minute sayins great call, good hearing from you, happy holidays... Sadly large clients are use to meetings, conference calls, and such and while you can suggest and direct certain new habits to get in the door you have to adhere to their traditions if you want big gigs.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:31 PM by CB


The best way to avoid phone calls? Take a page from Dharmesh's book: 
Charge $16.77/minute (aka $1,000 per hour) to speak on the phone: 
https://clarity.fm/#/dharmesh 
 
Setup a 15 minute minimum, so anyone who wants to talk has to pay at least $250. 
 
Take one for the team and donate all the proceeds to running OnStartups. 
 
Win?

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM by Alex Cook


Sounds like you're talking with the wrong people. 
 
Don't trash the medium of communication because your counter-party is doing it wrong.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:34 PM by Matt Curtis


Totally agree with Tim Yandel... and looks like I'm not an introvert, without hearing the person I'm talking to, I feel that some part of the conversation is missing

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:35 PM by Sergey Pozhilov


I saw your article through your message on the linked in forum. Great article. Glad to see that many of us are on the same boat.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:36 PM by Niral


I was an early-life introvert. It resulted in impaired social and communication skills that limited my social and professional life. I learned better through practice. I hope you get over your impairment as I did.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:36 PM by Sven Hanson


David Petraeus prefers email too.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:38 PM by Tom Carroll


Quick apology to those that feel I've used the images from The Oatmeal unfairly. 
 
I've reached out to Matt offering to donate $500 (or whatever amount he thinks is fair) to his favorite charity. 
 
And, not that it excuses it, but all proceeds from this blog (there aren't many) get donated. This is not a for-profit exercise for me -- but a labor of love. 
 
Will post back here once I hear from Matt.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:40 PM by Dharmesh Shah


Plagiarized from the Oatmeal complete with pics. Am reporting this to the Oatmeal. Shame on you.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:44 PM by M


When I first started in business, I figured I was alone with this issue. Everyone around me always uses the phone or Skype to get things done. But I loathe it, for all the reasons listed in this article (as well as the TheOatmeal comic). I can get a lot done over email, but I tend to falter and become indecisive in a phone conversation.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:44 PM by Anon


Dharmesh, 
It is indeed a convenient feature of email that you can "batch up" your replies. The problem with phone calls is that they are missing a similar convenience feature: you just cannot let others know when it is a good time for you to talk. 
 
If I may bring my latest and greatest smartphone app to your attention: http://caret.co/ brings this convenience to your phone calls for free.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:47 PM by Adam Kornafeld


So, let me get this straight - You are an entrepreneur with a company in the B2B space and you don't like to pick up the phone and talk. Hmm.... 
 
Sorry, I just cannot relate. Besides meeting face to face, the only thing that works better than email in the B2B space is to pick up the phone and talk; assuming that there has been a prior 'connection' with that person. 
 
Hope people don't take this post as advice. If you are in B2B, it is vital that you learn how to connect over the phone. You will sell, build a case, argue, demo, conference, support and many more over the phone.... Email just doesn't do it there.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:47 PM by Chuck


Dharmesh. I applaud you on recognizing your weaknesses but I have to disagree with you on several points.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:48 PM by Andrew Gelfand


Bravo! Thanks for speaking up. I'm a dye-in-the-wool MBTI INTJ, thus agree strongly. 
 
What about teleconferencing? They are more useful than point-2-point. Research shows they are highly productive. It's my exception to the rule.  
 
Note: clinically, introverts find ad hoc interaction extremely de-energizing. We are utterly exhausted after impromptu interactions. It is debilitating.  
 
Quite simply, this clear physical reaction is why introverts hate the telephone, big, noisy parties, serendipitous meetings and so forth. Please respect us. Remember, thing is, more often than not, introverts are the leaders, scientists and high achievers... 
 
http://bit.ly/UGuwsK 
 
 
Meanwhile, extroverts draw enormous energy from random interaction. Absent frequent, ad hoc conversation, extroverts become restless, confused and unhappy.  
 
These are just two, basic telephonic (personality) phenotypes, that's all.  
 
Look, to the other comments, startups depend on diversity. Homophilous talent networks kill startups. Embrace diversity, not homophily. 
 
-j 

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:49 PM by John Maloney


Darmesh: thank you! You might as well have taken the words out of my mouth. As a fellow introvert and overbooked, far-too-busy-for-my-own good overachiever, I struggle with this balance constantly. Even working on a startup whose motto might as well be I-never-want-to-talk-to-you. Yes, I want to keep connection with friends/fam, but must *everything* else in my life stop when we want to communicate or confirm or catch-up? What if we had to stop the car to turn on the radio? The telephone was a great invention in a time where instant communication was a novelty. That novelty has passed. Advances in asynchronous communication are the new Bell Labs.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:50 PM by Clif


So you know my wife then? 
 
Seriously different channels have different value - face to face to build relationships, Instant Messaging can have a similar effect and is less intrusive than voice (I always use IM as a preference), email - if I must and the phone. The phone is somewhere between Face to face and IM in my view. Intrusive sure but you can hear the voice so get an inference not available via text. then we have video calls. Personally I loathe them, they offer no more than the phone but I have to put my clothes on.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:51 PM by Symon Blomfield


Chuck: Yes, I am an entrepreneur in the B2B space (co-founder of HubSpot).  
 
Thankfully, I have a great team of people that make up for my weaknesses. I try to bring value to the organization in other ways.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:51 PM by Dharmesh Shah


Unfortunately this article is a sad reflection on how our society has shifted in the digital age. Emails work better than phone calls sometimes, particularly if you are finding that it is necessary to document communications. But they are far less efficent than just picking up the phone and having a call. Also, so much gets lost in translation, which only begets further emails and decreases productivity. Everyone has experienced (sometimes often) every point you make on phone calls. I think instead of receding into a shell, most people would work on their social skills or just accept that some phone calls are awkward and deal with it. These days, people need to get out from behind their computers more often and interact with other humans and the world in the way that humans have been doing for 1000s of years. Computers are a tool, not a crutch. Introverts can improve their social skills, but just like anything else, it takes motivation and practice.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:55 PM by Steve Smith


Ahh, someone like me! The only thing I'd add is that I prefer face-to-face talk more than email. I like/use email the same as you, and avoid phone calls for the same reasons, but enjoy and try to arrange meetings where possible so I can read the person - and avoid most of the problems a phone conversation delivers. One last thing: I appreciate your humored approach to your message - perhaps unlike some others...

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:58 PM by Ross Bentley


Wow, you guys are a tough group. Some harsh words - wonder if you would speak them over the phone?

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:00 PM by Dan


Dharmesh. I congratulate you on recognizing and dealing with your admitted weakness, but I have to disagree with you on several levels. 
 
First off with phone calls, if you are dealing with a situation, tone of speech, passion, emotion are all critical factors when dealing and talking about Business. Failure to be able to distinguish these subjects can and will affect your ability to successfully conclude some deals. Reading something on line as a writtent word-just does not do it. 
 
Also the spoken word is so much faster and way more productive. If I want to get something done, I may start with an email, but I can accomplish so much more with a phone call or teleconference than I can with an email. 
 
I think your views border on the extreme when it comes to Phone avoidence and I believe utlimately you will probably either lose a deal or mess a potential deal up in some way because of your inability to learn to cope with talking on the phone.  
 
I am not saying you have to love it, but you sure as hell have to learn how to use it to your advantage. Its a tool like all the other stuff you reference in your article. 
 
I can't tell you how often a tone of voice tells me something about the other party I am dealing with. Do they like my product or company, are they having issues with us about a particular situation, do we have an obstacle to overcome? These are all indicators of situations which you can hear on a phone (stress, hesitancy, passion, commitment, dismisiveness,support, disgust-they are business clues to help determing your own course of action). And in many cases, you would not pick these things up in an email, or if you did, it might be too late. So my advice to you, would be to get over yourself and see a counselor- and become more successful for doing so.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:02 PM by Andrew Gelfand


Dharmesh, on the plus side, when you do talk IN PERSON (I've never had you on the phone!), maybe because you are an introvert & you hate small talk,the result is impressive. We had a limited time to talk (20 mn) a year ago and you came prepared, having already checked out my website. You LISTENED to my questions, and had great input. I was impressed by your attitude & how much I got out of that conversation. Maybe you could translate this technique to phone calls? "I only have x mn. Let's get to the crux of it." Avoid small talk through time pressure, & email in advance to focus on the meat of the exchange?

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:02 PM by Reem


The key for me is "scheduled" calls. I don't like being interrupted, nor do I want to inflict interruption on others. As a goal, I schedule inbound and outbound calls around an agenda - and Skype or iChat video chats if at all possible. The scheduling is usually handled via email since asynchronous comms work better across time zones.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:04 PM by Michael Bittle


I see a lot of opinions in the comments here, but not a lot of perspective. Whether you find phone calls uesful or not, consider first that the nature of the business you're in has an impact on just how useful those calls are. Next, realize that just because you may be an extrovert who likes phone calls, doesn't mean introverts should. Someone said avoiding phone calls sucks the life out of life. That's like saying that not incorporating S&M into the bedroom takes the life out of your sex-life. Or have a strawberry allergy takes the joy out of eating. Your attraction or aversion to pain determines whether you like S&M, there are no absolute truths about it. There are all sorts of things you can control in life, and a few you can't. Height, eye color, and your place on the introversion/extroversion spectrum are a few things beyond your control. Dharmesh isn't wrong to dislike phone calls, he's designed that way. Unfortunately, extroverts are good at making noise in a way introverts aren't, so what you may consider "normal" is just what you hear about the most. Guess who you hear the most...? The people talking the loudest. See where this is going? We don't all need to conduct business the same way. We need to conduct business the BEST way, which is different for each of us. Good for you, Dharmesh, for defining what works for you and sticking to it.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:04 PM by Brendan W.


The message here to me is that it's important to know the styles of the people you want to communicate with. If somebody prefers emails over phone, that's fine with me. I just need to know. And it's not always easy to find out.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:08 PM by Mike Van Horn


hey Dharmesh. 
 
I so despise having calls with businesses that i created a company to solve that once and for all.  
 
We are boston based - called pingup.com 
 
we just closed our Series A - we are on a mission to allow people to text every business on the planet. we should set you up! you'll never get a call again!  
 
DW the app and ping Greg Selkoe - CEO of Karmaloop - he uses it! (search for Karmaloop and select Karmaloop CEO) 
 
thanks for the blog 
 
MArk

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:11 PM by mark slater


Wow- very angry people out there. In some cases, just outright rude in their comments. Have you heard of communicating the truth in a professional manner? Sounds to me Dharmesh you may just have some haters out there; however, I agree with some writers about plagarism but it looks like you're making things right. You live and learn. Simple as that. How many of us have made mistakes much worse than plagarism. Anyone??

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:16 PM by J


Phone is possibly the most efficient form of communication. Emotion, not rational as many introverts like to believe they adhere to, motivates most decisions made. Writing, in particular business writing, rarely inspires action, except in the display of supporting facts. This is why the terms/contract typically come last in any engagement.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:17 PM by Shane Burns


Dharmesh, 
 
I hate using the phone, too. When it rings, I dread answering it. When I have to make a call, I put it off until I force myself to say, "April, you can't eat lunch until you make the damn call." At 2:45, I make it. 
 
I respond much more thoughtfully by email when I have time to craft a response, so I prefer email or a face-to-face meeting. 
 
Thanks for a great post!

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:18 PM by April Greer


Great read…And you don't have to be an introvert to be able to relate to the benefits of asynchronous communications. Like many here, I am usually multiplexing several task with a clear focus on what I want to be able to accomplish by the end of the day. Extraneous phone calls inevitably throw off that otherwise reachable accomplishment. There is one exception I will mention that directly relates to the way I work with my clients – brainstorming and collaboration. When I'm working with a new client on general concepts for strategy, tactics and implementation, I find that the fast-paced brainstorming dialogue is much more productive on the phone than by email. However, once we have the brackets on these issues, I find that the "deviled details" are better handled by email so that they are fully documented. Another key exception is that I try and accommodate the modality my clients prefer. Some prefer the written word while others prefer verbal communications.… And my goal is to offer my clients the most cost-effective communications and results I possibly can.…no matter how much that I prefer asynchronous communications.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:23 PM by Robert Goodman


Dharmesh - I appreicate the candor you displayed in this blog and by the way - I'm not too bent out of shape about the images. You have made good by contacting Matt and donating to his favorite charity.  
 
Where I have to completely disagree is you are a leader in your company. Your the CTO and co-founder, therefore you should be accessible to your team and always encourage a culture of listening to team members whether they contact you via phone, email, chat, tweet, etc. I routinely take phone calls from team members and make outbound calls to express my appreciation, hear their feedback on how we could build a better company, and give them an ear. It's part of being an entreprenuer and a leader in a company even if you are an introvert. You have to learn to address your fear instead of running from it.  
 
I also believe you have incredible talents to offer to aspiring entrepruners and your fellow team members who should feel like you are reachable not in an ivory tower or through an impersonal email or tweet. I agree with one of the earlier posters that the tone, warmth you could exhibit, and compassion towards your team is something you can't often convey through email or a tweet.  
 
Just my three cents. Thanks for listening and for posting. I think it is important for our community to discuss this one.  
 
Have a GREAT Thanksgiving!

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:25 PM by Nate


Dharmesh, love onstartups.com  
 
Have to vehemently disagree with any and all responses that propose email being just as efficient for doing business (on inbound there was even a response to Ed's comment that deals can be closed just as easily over email)than telephone. 
In fact I have to believe Mark Roberge and your sales managers at Hubspot would also disagree with you strongly, as would any sales professional.  
Many keys to winning business and moving sales process along cannot be recognized through email, and email is far easier for people to ignore as you noted.  
I can appreciate your position as an introvert but the idea that just as much can be done over email is simply false.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:27 PM by AJM


Good food for thought, Dharmesh. A couple of things... 
 
It seems that you know yourself well and that you have set up your life so that you don't have to be on the phone. Good for you on both counts. 
 
However, there are some people who don't have the luxury of not taking phone calls, as their business really does depend on real-time talk. Yes, I try to not talk on the phone myself and only really make a few business related calls a few times a week, but sometimes I must. 
 
Also, your company HubSpot offers phone support, which I'm sure is manned by staff or a call center somewhere. So somebody, somewhere in your business is picking up a phone, albeit not you. 
 
I run a small SaaS startup myself, and there are only 4 of us running the whole show (we're bootstrapped, no outside money involved), so we've tried to go the customer support route without phone support. I does lose us some customers because some people simply want someone to talk to on the phone, but when we tried it we found it simply interrupted our days and made us vastly less productive and effective. Plus most people are used to email support at this point. 
 
Would be interested to hear your views on phone vs. email/IM support and the costs/benefits of each. 
 
Thanks for your well-thought out article, 
Jeff

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:37 PM by Jeff Kear


Wow, most of these comments are absolutely appalling.  
 
Two things: 
 
1. The OP clearly referenced The Oatmeal as the source of these comics. Not sure who appointed everyone as internet police, but you're seriously not contributing anything here... or probably anywhere. 
 
2. If you're imbued with the ability to gracefully handle phone calls, then this article isn't for you anyway. Stop picking on this guy because he admits to being deficient in some area. I'm sure many of you have admitted ineptness to an array of other faculties, like singing, dancing, coding, public speaking, cooking, tight rope walking across tall buildings with no safety net, skiing, swimming... the list goes on forever. Are you good at everything?

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:53 PM by Matt


6. On the phone, people often get pressured to making a decision right away. 
7. Only a limited amount of information can be passed. 
8. Adds irrelevant information (such as my emotions/mood at the moment might be irrelevant and nobody's business, neither are some background noises, music playing, dog barking, baby crying, sorry I got cold...). Also, if you get nervous, hard to deal with that.  
9. You can't choose what you want to hear, even with a prior email exchange - some people use this opportunity to get a foot in the door to talk about other things.  
10. Misinterpreted information - "send more detailed info by email" is misinterpreted as "yes", and then you need to deal with the consequences. 
11. No record what was said and agreed.  
12. Some specific fields are not auditory easy. What did you say? WHAT? Can you spell it for me? Let me find a dictionary...  
13. People who love a "quick chat" are often not an easy to deal with salesmen type, self-centric and lacking consideration for other people's time and preferences.  
14. Hard to say "no" to the phone call itself, it feels rude to hang up even though the chat is unsolicited and unwanted.  
 
 
P.s. As much as I don't like phones myself, I don't like unreasonable amount of Javascript - the one that just locked my computer on this page.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 2:03 PM by Julia


hmm Can someone call me? 
 
I really think u have a great point there... well more than one. It is akward - but it is ok. Trying to run a business stricltly out of an inbox is not very easy though... in terms of $$$ because most people I deal with either want face-time or "conf-calls". 
 
But yeah, I am with you, if I could just have it all done from my phone...my sexy Blackberry Torch with multi tasking capabailities beyond belief...then yeah, if not, I do need to take that CALL. 
 
BTW, phone call can also mean SKYPE which is pretty cool. 
 
Cheers,

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 2:09 PM by Emanuel


I also can't stand taking phone calls...business or personal. I just find the phone so disruptive to my day. I feel its very rude. However, I can deal with a scheduled call. I still don't like to talk on the phone but at least there's time to prepare when you know the time the call is going to happen.  
 
Emails or even a text works much better for me. There are specific times of the morning and afternoon that I'm available for phone calls. Outside of those times, the best way to contact me is via email. Everyone knows this and so far it works brilliantly.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 2:34 PM by Hope


I found your article to be so wonderfully refreshing and true not just for you but many people including myself. Hope you don't mind but I just shared with 1000 like minded souls in  
Google Plus. Have a great holiday. Don't worry. I won't be calling you!

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 2:42 PM by Sheri Herman


A fairly general rule: people seriously in business can handle themselves in different situations.  
 
This kind of rule - no calls - reminds me of geeks who proclaim that they should not learn one thing about sales or marketing, because they see their role in life as being on a mountaintop.  
 
I think it's short sighted and a bit inept to be in business and to not be able to utilize or respond appropriately to one of the primary communication mechanisms used in the business world. 
 
You will run into MANY more people in the business world who are more comfortable with conversations than with writing - and they may even be acutely self conscious of their shortcomings with the written word, so a more personal approach may be appreciated.  
 
A person can't be excellent at absolutely everything, true. But it can do you a world of good to become OK with presentation to other human beings by practicing.  
 
The core problem with email is that emotional nuances can become masked, extremely exaggerated, or misinterpreted. It takes serious writing skill to convey emotional meaning diplomatically.  
 
Example: If you have a dispute with another party, the "geek hiding behind his keyboard" reasoning is to hunker down even more to avoid confrontation and to try to mediate by email. Usually, nothing gets settled this way if raw emotions are at play and it usually makes things worse.  
 
But, whatevs.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 2:42 PM by Don


Dharmesh, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and how challenging phone communication is for you and others. I've never understood folks like you and I am grateful that you choose to share. Now I will be able to proceed with understanding and compassion when I communicate with someone similar. 
Thank you!

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 2:44 PM by Ingrid


I think that degrading phone call quality has a surprising amount to do with people's phone discomfort. Most phone calls these days sound awful. Looking back, I enjoyed chatting with friends over land-lines back in the day, whereas now conversations are usually brief, unpleasant, and just to coordinate an in-person meetup. These days, mobile phone latency (which causes you to interrupt each other), signal quality (causing breakups and distortions), and outright shoddy speaker quality make voice conversations pretty terrible. 
 
I've actually been shocked at how much more pleasant a few calls have been over a good VOIP provider (i.e. *not* Skype), running direct to my desktop, and using headphones. 
 
Meanwhile, I cannot understand about 40% of what people say over my Virgin Mobile Android phone. Sure, that's not the best example of what modern mobile has to offer, but I'm pretty sure even a great phone on a well-regarded network (e.g. a Verizon iPhone) still pales in comparison to a good ol' land line connection. 

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 2:45 PM by Jeff


I love this post,I am exactly the same way. What I do not get is how all the extroverts are the ones that say they do not relate or even try to understand and think just because we do not like to answer phone or talk to others like they do makes it a weakness. As an introvert we get our tasks done but do it differently than an extrovert would. One thing I learned from 7 habits of highly affective people is voice-mail is made for a reason. Just because the phone rings does not mean I have to answer it. At my leisure I can listen to my voice-mails and respond accordingly. I can rate the calls by importance and get back to the ones that I feel need a phone call or sometimes I just respond to the phone calls by email or I don’t respond at all if I feel its a waste of my time. As some extroverts might think just because the phone rings does not mean you have to answer it.  
Its amazing to me to see the typical extrovert not even focus on the meaning behind this post and focus on something so trivial as plagiarism. They do not even try to understand where we as introverts come from or even be tolerant of who we are. They preach so much of being tolerant but yet they are not themselves. I am who I am and I am proud to be an introvert. It is not a weakness, it is not something I am ashamed of. I take it and figure out how to do things different then the main stream and society thinks it should be handled. That is pretty ingenious I would think. Not a one track mind. And realize there is many different ways to accomplish something. There is not one way or one right way.  
I get comments all the time that I am unfriendly because I keep quiet and keep to myself, or get asked if I am sad all the time...NO I am just quiet and when I speak it is because I have something important to say so you better listen. I do not talk on the phone or in person just to hear myself talk as some extroverts do.  
I am with you all the way on this. If you really look at it and study what the phone is, it really has become an inefficient way to communicate anymore. It wastes both parties time when you feel you have to make small talk, and your stumbling over each other of the timing when to speak. And it wastes your time when you have to stop what your doing just to answer a phone call just because the other person by calling you is demanding you talk to them and drop whatever you are doing just for them. What makes you that important that I need to drop everything just for you. 
Yes the telephone was a better way to communicate back in the day when Johnnie wanted to call a girl back in the 50's. Technology is so much better than the phone anymore and yes there is much better ways to communicate than the phone. Its time to get with the times people. Telephone / landlines / even cell phone is old school anymore.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 2:51 PM by Ty Moore


I'm sure you made important additions to the original work. 
For that I'm appreciative. Plus I 
never would have found it by myself. WJDean

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 2:53 PM by W Jack Dean


Wow, so many "shoulds" in the comments! Dharmesh is just explaining how he feels about calls and how he deals with that. He isn't saying you should act the same way, or that his way is better than your way. In fact he went out of his way to say his feelings are "abnormal". 
 
All you commenters who are defending using the phone, or claiming it's better, or saying Dharmesh should act differently: methinks thou doth protest too much. How about taking your need to do battle somewhere else?  
 
Read the article again; there is no preaching, there is no recommendation that you work the way he works. There is nothing to "disagree" with. He's just explaining his feelings and how he deals with them, in case someone else might feel the same way and get some benefit from knowing that they are not alone. You can't "disagree" that he has those feelings. You could disagree with his advice if he were giving advice, but he isn't.  
 
If you feel compelled to proclaim your way is better, take a breath, calm down, and just appreciate someone else's life experiences.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 3:08 PM by Mike


I so relate to this post. my voice mail is full and i mass delete the calls. my close family, finally, understands that its not personal when i call them infrequently. 
 
the only exception is when email threads become unwieldy or personal - rather get on the phone then and clear the matter.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 3:11 PM by vikas


During the time it took to write this you could have developed some useful social skills. 
 

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 3:23 PM by Basdawj


Darmesh: 
Good points for people who are very busy, not just those who don't want to talk on the phone. In my coaching/consulting business I have clients out of my geographical area and need to talk by phone for their sessions. I LOVE to talk on the phone but I consistently screen my calls due to time constraints. I will definitely be able to use some of your tips.  
One of my pet peeves, though, is the person who sends a NOVEl by email when a simple phone conversation could get the info discussed and a decision made - guess I could write a blog on that! Thanks for the post! 
PS Yes, do be careful of using others material - wouldn't want your blog shut down! 

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 3:28 PM by Claudia


Dharmesh, 
 
Thanks for your thoughts. I believe that the internet police who chastised you need to get a hobby.  
Like you, I have a huge aversion to phone calls. Simply put,I loathe them. However, they are a business necessity, so I do my best to hit the key points, address any relevant questions, and end the call professionally and expeditiously. Thanks for sharing your point of view.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 3:36 PM by Tom


"1. The OP clearly referenced The Oatmeal as the source of these comics. Not sure who appointed everyone as internet police, but you're seriously not contributing anything here... or probably anywhere." 
 
Yes, that's right, you can copy whatever you want online, as much as you want, as long as you just "reference" the source material, right? It's "fair use", right? Republish my article that The Atlantic paid me $2,700 for and just "reference" me--and we're all good, right? 
 
It's often those who know the last about something who are the most certain.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 3:37 PM by cm


I used to prefer email to phone too, but it does limit you. 
A messenger program or skype can help, but talking is 1,000 times better if you need to get something settled quickly. 
 
I once tried to phone a person who has having close to the same website problem as I had, and she was really freaking out about it . So I called her and left a voicemail - and she completely freaked out in the next forum post, as though I was a mass-murderer. I couldn't figure that out, because I was offering to help, but maybe it was your sister, Darmesh? 
 
The key with the phone is to ask if the person has time to talk, and say how long you expect the call to be, and try to stick exactly to that time, and the agenda you asked for. 
 
I have friends who are salesmen. They do 5, 6 and 7 figure deals. You cant usually do that by email, and even the phone doesn't cut it for really big deals. Sometimes only face-to-face works, and I don't mean video phone.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 3:46 PM by Alan Gray


The telephone is a tool. I use it as such. The phone works for me... I don't work for the phone! In other words, I do not feel compelled to answer the phone when it rings. I use caller ID to filter unscheduled calls, if I am "coming up for air" and need a "distraction." More often than not, I respond to voice mails by email. I never respond to requests to "meet and get acquainted" unless there is a direct purpose behind the request. The irony is - I conduct my entire business by phone and email. Scheduled conference calls are an essential element of our private commercial lending business. Spontaneous calls from clients, or to clients, to check on progress, request further information or documentation, are essential to our success. I try to contain my phone time to certain times of the day or even certain days of the week, not always successfully. I too am an introvert and I treasure my alone time, my think time, my creative time, and most of all, my productive time. Blessings all!

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 3:51 PM by Barbara Leuin


Learn some basic phone skills. In this day and age of instant information, automization, phone service out sourcins, plagerized or not, people want, require and are demanding more personal attention. If you dont want to learn, maybe by osmosis or by the following mantra said every morning (or 5 times a day for the faithful:) "The phone is my friend, the phone is a tool, 
the phone makes me money, 
I love the phone, the phone loves me, I use the phone effectively, efficiently and on task".

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 4:05 PM by MENCHDUDE


Have you considered the possibility that you just have poor interpersonal skills and would benefit from working on that a bit?

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 4:07 PM by Israel Alvarez


Dharmesh- 
 
Whatever you're doing, please keep doing it. Hubspot is great and getting even better everyday. 
 
Thanks.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 4:26 PM by Don Battis


Love this - glad to know I'm not alone!

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 4:41 PM by Rob


I think a lot depends on the timing and purpose of phone calls. I don't have any problem with scheduled, focused phone calls, and I have a lot of those. I can prepare, review any relevant documents, and make sure that I've allocated enough time for the call. On the other hand, I find out-of-the-blue phone calls very disruptive. I'm pretty much always in the middle of something, so a phone call that I don't expect is invariably an interruption, and I'd say 90% of the time someone is trying to sell me something I don't want. I don't think anyone likes that. Do the commenters who like phone calls also enjoy it when a telephone solicitor calls them at home to sell them something in the middle of dinner?

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 4:58 PM by Deborah Dahl


This article resonated with me because of my personality. I HATE phone calls.  
 
I feel I am interrupting someone when I make a call and I hate small talk too. Yes, for the majority of extroverts out there, there are people who hate talking on the phone.  
 
This does not mean they are bad at it, they just dislike it. The reasons above are just a few of many reasons.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 4:59 PM by Lisa


Folks calm down..who are you to dictate what is the standard for proper communication. People are different...get over it. 
 
I can relate to the no phone calls stuff, I hate em(phone calls)..face to face or email works best for me. I've never had an issue with an email taken out of context. A well written email can have maximum impact, as there is something for the recipient to revisit at a later time if required. 
 
Phone calls just get in the way(and I'm almost always multi tasking), the only call I absolutely "almost" answer the first time is from my wife :). 
 
If you're a sales rep, sure... phone calls are one of your best tools/execution points, but nothing clinches like a face to face, better yet in a relaxed environment. 
 
Thanks for this honest article, don't sweat the comments. I'm a big fan of the Oatmeal, honest oversight on your part I'd guess...I'm sure he won't put you on blast and go draw a cartoon about your misstep :)

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 5:24 PM by Rodney


Speaks my mind. Thanks Darmesh. 
~an introvertpreneur

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 5:49 PM by Jeff Paine


I think it's fair to have preferences. I've known programmers who would do anything to not sit in a meeting. It can be far more comfortable to just receive emails than to speak to people live. If your profession can support it, I think it's okay, but you also miss out a lot on personal connections. Connections being a substantial part of business especially over time in a career. I wonder if in person interactions work the same for you as phone conversations. I do understand how calls can be a distraction to productivity and I've had times when I have to call and make chit chat with a receptionist because the party I'm calling never answers the phone. It can be bothersome at times. I think it would be far easier for me as an introvert to just accept the occasional call than to make an effort to teach everyone who contacts you not to call. You do also have the option to not answer the phone as well and just respond to voice messages left.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 5:52 PM by N


Agree but not for all the same reasons. Phone calls are essentially rude interuptions regardless of whether they bring good news or bad news! I am retired and one of the benefits is not having to answer the phone more than once or twice a day. I am a counselor and I council by e mail and face to face frequently but I refuse to do so on the phone. The phone is not a satisfactory place to deal with or advise people. Face to face is far better and email gives both parties time to research and consider the real solutions not just banter. 
My compliments to your article.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 6:15 PM by Bob Goedjen


Give the guy a break. It's simply an introverted vs extroverted preference.  
 
Introverts like to be in control of communication. And he's probably an introvert with a strong thinking preference as well, which probably makes him hate the phone much more then other introverts. And he probably feels that it interrupts his train of thought. 
 
But if you were an introverted thinker too, you would have noticed that instead of critizing him ;)  
 
Millions that have this preference. Including many marketers & CEO's that you wouldn't think do. 

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 6:41 PM by Amanda Frazier


Really funny article. But seriously. No, really, seriously. There are lots of other articles and books galore that would be really helpful for your getting over your debilitating neuroses. Or you could get counseling. You're living out of fear. Get help, and maybe you'll experience more than meager success. From one introvert to another, only wish the best for you.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 7:20 PM by Tom Fee


My first response is disappointment, but I respect your honest and clever approach.  
Back to the first impression: 
There are so many ways to criticize the idea that phone calls are a "distraction" et al., but the two top of mind are (1) You clearly need the practice; and I mean no offense, and (2) calls, i.e., increased interaction, builds relationships which include the concepts of Trust and Affinity.  
It's your choice to withdraw but it comes with limits on your own growth and life accomplishment.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 8:09 PM by Jon Rosen


Communication has been changing forever. No soliciting signs changed door to door sales. Caller ID changed telemarketing and what's happening to junk mail. I see two big lessons in Dharmesh's post. First, I'd bet that the 15 calls that he had last year were calls that he wanted because he saw value in them for him, not necessarily for the caller. Dharmesh isn't selfish, but we're all more motivated by what we want than what others want. Second, is a lesson for all of us that we must communicate in the medium that our 'target' wants us to communicate. I.E. texters and emailers must call people that want to be called (even Dharmesh) and callers must text or email people that want to be texted or emailed. If you choose not to use a particular medium, you risk never communicating with people that only use that medium. You may get a chuckle out of what Einstein had to say.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 8:22 PM by Rick Roberge


Interesting perspective. I'm often on both sides of the fence on calls, I know what you mean by how hard it is to say no, but i do have that ability to say no. 
 
I'm of mixed opinions, I do like talking over the phone, but understand the productivity argument.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 8:38 PM by Jeff


The use of images aside, Dharmesh made it quite clear at the beginning of his post that it was a personal rant/peeve. I'm a serial startup addict, but I'm a dyed-in-the-wool introvert with the same [pathological] aversion to phone calls. Emails are so much better than impulsive phone responses, without the time lag associated with traditional emails (today, email access is ubiquitous on smartphones, so access/responses are instantaneous). 
I'm inclined to agree that phone calls tend to interrupt the creative flow of thoughts. Scheduled calls are okay, though.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:10 PM by Kunal


I like the tip about changing outgoing voicemail to indicate that email is the preferred method of communication. I have a pathological aversion to phone calls. Not just at work, but I'm not much of a phone guy in real life either. I love talking to people in person, but over the phone things just don't flow as well. The only exception to this is when I want to show someone something, typically over gotomeeting or a similar screensharing software. If I do need to talk to someone on the phone I try and choose odd times (10 minutes before the hour) to intentionally have a shorter and more direct conversation.

posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:58 PM by Dev Basu


I'm an introvert too; in fact, I'm probably a bigger introvert than you are. But I don't think your introversion has anything to do with your hatred of phone calls. As at least one other person has suggested, I think you have some kind of abnormal anxiety that you need to work on.

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 12:02 AM by boop


Dharmesh, 
I really liked the article. Most of the things are relevant and we face it daily. Only thing is larger portion of crowd does not accept it! 
 
I appreciate your points about Asynchronous communication and small talk  

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 12:09 AM by Rahul G


Love the honesty. Ignore the arty farty types that think interaction is needed. Remember, they need government funding to fuel their output because it creates little value. you are a productivity machine! You provide the funds.

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 12:11 AM by agreed


Waoh! Was half-expecting the comments section to be closed. 
 
The article is interested and I got introduced to the oatmeal comics through it.  
 
I run my own business and I'm not completely averse to phone calls but I realize there are times when engaged in work that I just detest receiving phone calls from anyone, family or friend and hope you'd not keep calling but send me an email or SMS 
 
Phone calls are relevant and I can relate with the awkwardness that comes with wanting to end a call & the other person just going on (put a gun to my head & shoot me pls)

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 12:58 AM by Adegbenga Agoro


Lovely one Dharmesh, thanks, 
 
I love to yak: am the selfish, opiniated, know it all sales type. And i hate to type, if i could -this post would have been easier on the phone.  
 
So now you know me.  
 
And i love your post and totally agree with you. What a collosal waste of time these phone calls can be? How much time is wasted by being trigger happy, picking up the phone and dialling customers, friends, parents, kids - interrupting their work or sleep or food or movie or their thought process, interrupting peoples scheduleds, leaving unwanted messages, poking pushing to see if the other has bought our idea or product.... endless. 
 
Thank you for opening up this topic. Lots of thoughts and opinions here that one can make use of. 

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 2:35 AM by Raj Mohan


Darmesh...love the article. One of the reasons we created Google Voice (actually GrandCentral) was to free people from getting on calls they didn't want to be on. Our early saying was "Never miss a call you want to take, and never take a call you want to miss." We're all about putting users in control of their calls (never really existed on inbound before), so glad you noticed:) 
 
We're not trying to do the same thing with conference calls by giving great controls and information to the organizer and participants through ÜberConference...you should check it out. 
 
Best, Craig Walker (@cwalker123)

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 2:46 AM by Craig Walker


Great post, Dharmesh! 
 
Although it probably seems strange to most people, we introverts know EXACTLY how this feels.... 
 
And I absolutely agree, in person it is much easier. 
 
Thank you for the tips:)

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 3:05 AM by Aisha


This was a interesting read for me, I'm a sles consultant and my MD insists that phone calls are the way. Most of my work is done via phone. It was good to get an inside look at how some people view sales phone calls. I'll definitely be reviewing my strategy :)

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 3:26 AM by Tamaryn


Perfectly said, I'll repost on my blog, I'm 100% like you! 
Thanks for it.

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 3:42 AM by paolo


Dharmesh, 
 
I think we're all becoming to reliant on email and to motivate your employees, you've simply got to speak to them whether in person or by phone. A short, sharp phone call can be much more efficient that a wordy email and furthermore people tend to hide behind emails, phone calls help you get things done.  
 
Out of interest what's your number? I've got a couple of questions to ask you.

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 3:54 AM by Sam P


The greatest strength is often shown by overcoming our weaknesses rather than giving in to them. I am (was) something of an introvert and yet I have pushed myself, now I can talk in front of hundreds of strangers and network.

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 4:15 AM by Bob H


I was actually shocked last week to realize how little time I spend on the phone even though I'm a recruiter. Thanks for the affirmation. 
 
I was scolded by my old recruiting boss for not putting in the minimum 500 minutes of phone time per week. (Yes, they actually tracked our phone useage). And I was the top producer of placements in the office of 50 employees. 
 
My article would be "Sorry, I don't do coffee" 
 
I can't tell you how many times I get asked each week to "go get coffee" just to have them sell me something. I tell those people to look at my Plancast and meet me at an event I will already be attending. 
 
I suck at keeping up with email because I have so much. 
 
How do you deal with email?

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 6:02 AM by Marsh Sutherland


Message to all the intellectuals out there complaining about Dharmesh's free advertising of a relatively little-known website (well, I've never heard of it, so it can't be... ;o): 
How many people clicked and discovered something new and great and share-worthy? How much down-the-road benefit does Oatmeal get? Sheesh! It's like complaining that guests don't get paid per word they say on Oprah. Wake up guys!

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 6:36 AM by Simon hamilton


i would say i fall somewhere in the middle- if a phone call is not necessary, i'd rather do without it, and that's both incoming and outgoing. 
 
that said, i live in a country where people have little or no phone ethic. worse, sometimes when you're in a meeting and have to hang up without responding (voicemail is something most people here are not accustomed to and they simply don't know what they're supposed to do), they just keep calling back, without realizing there is a reason you're hanging up or not taking the call.

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 6:49 AM by Dhruv Dayal Gupta


I'm compulsively friendly and an easy conversationalist, and I hate phone calls, too. As you said, they're an interruption, and primarily a waste of time.  
 
For business, email also provides a written record, so I can be sure I don't overlook anything, and so I can later prove exactly what transpired. 
 
Except for calls from out-of-state family, or for brief conversations requiring immediate attention, send me an email and leave me alone. I don't want to chat.

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 7:07 AM by Jakki Horan


It is good ideas, but all of us not using in that ways because sometimes,it is very important for all of us, so that cause my suggestion is be balance. for the time of being i'm stop now,...?

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 7:26 AM by Pastor Tesfaye Salato


This is pretty much exactly how I feel.

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 8:07 AM by Blake Robinson


As a business owner, i find cold calls irritating to say the least. The best bit of this article for me is this snippet: 
 
"Make it a firm policy to never say yes to something on the call. Always give yourself some time to think about it. I will often tell people that I never make a buying decision on the phone -- and that they should follow-up via email" 
 
Couldn't agree more with this.

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 8:48 AM by Jason Smith


Not abnormal. Not abnormal at all. 
Many many people who identify as Introverts dislike or outright hate telephone calls. This is actually more common that you think.

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 1:53 PM by Vicki


Thank you for writing this! I am impressed when I learn that someone I admire is honest with himself as I'd like to be. I always stop myself and worry about how someone will take it. It helps to know I'm not the only one to does stuff like this.  
 
Have you read the book "Quiet"? It's about the power of introverts. I'm not finished with it yet, but it's quite interesting.

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 2:25 PM by Tracey


Sometimes phone calls are necessary especially when I find myself trying to have a two way conversation via email, text or messenger. But I will usually prefer email since it give me a better record of what was discussed and agreed to than my hand-written notes, and I can easily search through emails and/or tag them for future reference. Also, I find that I have a tendency to multi-task while on a phone call with things related to the call or not. I'm not the world's best conversationalist and sometimes find I can am manipulated by others that think faster on their feet than I can.

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 9:35 PM by P Yandel


Great article-Thanks for sharing. I do not type well-takes me forever-So I prefer to speak in person when possible

posted on Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 1:16 AM by Lee Williams


PLAGIARISM from  
 
http://theoatmeal.com/comics/phone

posted on Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 4:37 AM by lol


One thing I would point out, one of my colleagues was having a terrible time exchanging mails with a new senior manager, he has now found that actually speaking to him can save hours of back and forth emails as well as avoiding rage due to misunderstandings.

posted on Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 4:46 AM by Bob H


I completely agree that phone calls take much longer (generally) than an email and yes, the small talk is an utter pain in the backside. 
 
But sometimes, email just gets lost in translation. I think if the two people conversing are talking about a topic they're both comfortable with, completely understand and are already well known to one another, an email is great. But, for example, when we're discussing elements of a marketing campaign with some of our less savvy clients, things just get lost in translation on email and it's only the phone call that's really going to make it work. 
 
Above all though, I'm still quite a fan of the face to face meeting - not time-effective by comparison to an email but a good relationship builder and without doubt the best way to convey and communicate an idea that might be complex to one party.

posted on Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 8:44 AM by Stacey Cavanagh


It's funny to me that you would use the word "tyranny" in an article about a hatred of phone calls. I reserve use of the word when discussing oppressive government.

posted on Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 10:34 AM by Hank S


Thoroughly enjoyed reading this article

posted on Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 11:53 AM by Rahul


Not a great idea, just using email- it reflects poorly on you and adds excess work.  
I am the opposite and shun email as much as possible and check only 2x day, no texts and if you want call me.  
Email sucks to get a resolve or agreement, takes 10x the emails that a 2min call can do.  
 
I find that alot of passive aggressive guys like this are shut down with this strategy. works well for me, because I get to the point, give value and call with relevancy.

posted on Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 11:31 PM by Ron


I hate Cold Calling companies, They will waste business peoples' time without getting Their permission to talk. It should be a permission based marketing or communication method.

posted on Saturday, November 24, 2012 at 11:08 AM by Sharanyan Sharma


Thanks for writing this, Dharmesh. It's always nice to realize that other folks struggle with the same frustrations. 
 
That said, the comments on your post are really frustrating. People screaming about plagiarism, folks who insist on capitalizing Business as though it's a religion that demands we worship the telephone, and even several suggestions that you/we suffer from an affliction that we should consider clinical therapy to fix... these are pretty stifling outlooks. 
 
I'm a software developer, an introvert and rate as a strong INTJ. I'm also known as a networker and someone people are comfortable talking with. I suspect that neither of us suffer (except when people call) and that it's really more an issue of eliminating unscheduled calls and being comfortable enough to stay on track before saying goodbye. 
 
My personal pet peeve is when people call and don't ask if you're busy, or if it's a good time to talk. I always ask, unless I'm ordering a pizza. 
 
Pete

posted on Saturday, November 24, 2012 at 7:31 PM by Pete Forde


I coach people for a living. I coach extroverts and I coach introverts. There is a surprising similarity in how they see the world: they both seek autonomy – they both want their life and interactions to be in their control. What that control looks like is the difference between them.  
 
Whether you believe in these type descriptions or not is telling. Communication is about sharing your interior with another so that they understand you, and vice versa. The word understand is the important thing, to understand an other is to work in a space that is not about autonomy, it’s about empathy. The mismatch that seems to be going on with a lot of people in this thread is that someone’s introversion is an impairment. Firstly, that is an interpretation, a judgment, and infers that you know the interior of the writer well enough to respond critically. If you are well meaning you would be curious, if you are merely wanting to extend your own view, to keep your sense of control, to be your autonomous self, you are communicating that you don’t want to understand. It would be fairer and more honest to say that. 
 
What psychological type you develop as a child is pretty hard wired, and to look at its function as an impairment is a judgment call from your own perspective. All perspectives are partial (and some perspectives are more partial than others): so learning what is partial in your own view is more important for your own autonomy than trying to judge someone else’s. Being critical might make you feel better, but it won’t make you better. Understanding people is a skill, that sometimes comes wrapped in an attitude, it’s difficult to unwrap the attitude to develop the skill, but it’s well worth it. After all, both extroverts and introverts want to be happy.  
 
One thing that helps the understanding process is to get to know how you describe conflict and how you respond to it. Then ask your buddy, boss, girlfriend the same two questions. Then figure out your styles based on the two axis of assertiveness and co-operation. Which styles do you use most, and least, how might that impact your interaction with someone different than yourself? Five conflict styles are: competing, collaborating, compromising, accommodating and avoiding. Know thyself, then know others.  

posted on Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 9:10 AM by Gregor Bingham


Really great stuff, Dharmesh! I don't like phone calls too. 99% time and energy wasting. 
Showin' this page to "phone call junkies" in my office, hope they'll learn some lesson. 

posted on Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 11:30 PM by Cartman


In an age where our children are losing their social skills completely due to technology (e.g. texting), I find your approach disappointing. In fact, I think it is more tailored to accommodate your weaknesses rather than use "phone calling" as a technique to sharpen your social skills, character and overcome these weaknesses. Face-time (and I am not referring to technologically aided face-time) and phone calls are what enable one to get to know the other person's character. It is what allows us to create long-term relationships based on trust and seeing that "first" response which creates transparency or sometimes gives us that feeling to "run for the hills." What you are requesting is not that different from Facebook in "creating your persona" in the light that you would like others to see you in and not who you truly are. Some cultures have perfected this art. However, when I do business or want to interact with someone, I want to know who they "really" are not "who they want me to think they are." Transparency to the real you is what forms and keeps both business and personal relationships sound. This is a recipe for disaster or one of smoke and mirrors that everyone eventually sees through. Facebook and texting and email have lead to creating a generation of socially inept people. They are not even comfortable sitting by themselves....without their technology as company. A very disappointing perspective.

posted on Monday, November 26, 2012 at 12:31 PM by Stella Karavas


For 99% (not the popular reference) of the people who have a customer or a boss or both- this doesn't work.  
 
This would only work if you were a semi-inactive GP investing in companies as a financial buyer- even then if you LPs call you have to get it.  
 
It doesn't work, same as a remote CEO- maybe if you have an online business only- but several times I have found it better to just give them a call and in 2mins the question/issue is solved. For me it kills trust if I cannot get a phone number. 
 
Would you invest 100k with a broker that didn't have a address or phone number?  
 
Simple answer.  
 

posted on Monday, November 26, 2012 at 2:52 PM by ron


FANTASTIC article! I could not agree more! 
 
I hate phone calls. Although it can be nice with close family members, with pretty much every one else I prefer email (or an in-person meeting if it's a friend). There's nothing wrong with that, thank god for 21st century that allows us to find more pleasant ways of doing things that had only one way before.

posted on Monday, November 26, 2012 at 5:07 PM by US


I too hate phone calls and am so glad to hear someone else suffers through this as well. 
 
Although, scheduling a call doesn't help me at all. It just makes me feel a sense of dread for the impending struggle. 
Personally I find it hard to hear and concentrate on the phone. I constantly have to ask people to repeat themselves and this leaves me feeling self conscious and sets my mind wondering about how I should continue the call and whether I will hear and understand what the person is saying. by which time, I have missed another important piece of the conversation and so it goes on. 
 
I am an introvert and, yes, small talk is like slow torture. 
 
And sod the age and how 99% of people deal with this. We don't ask people who are terrified of heights to fly... it is their own choice and anyway, they can take a train. Same thing really as not liking phones. 
And anyway, isn't email a form of communication? 
 
I'm not adverse to contact with other humans, i just cannot stand doing it on the phone. In some respects it makes us more communicable as we value face to face contact and using all the cues available, such as body language, to make a conversation more fulfilling. My thoughts are that people who prefer using the phone like it because it hides so much of themselves and allows them to be duplicitous. 
 
Thanks for your article. It has settled my internal struggle about believing I actually have to give an <appropriate_expletive /> about the fact that I ignore calls!

posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 3:38 AM by Nikki


I trust you less after hearing your extreme stance on phone calls. It seems like you want to be in control of every relationship. There is no room for a level playing field. 
 
I could understand if you just tried to cut back on phone calls, but 15 a year is just nutty. 
 
I'm glad the tech world is moving in the opposite direction. Tools like clarity.fm are resulting in more phone calls, not less.

posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 11:43 AM by Ben


So did you ever get permission to use these images from Matthew Inman? 

posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 2:14 PM by cm


Wow, this article struck a nerve. 
 
Tons of arguments about how superior the phone is to e-mail. But would you not agree that face-to-face is superior to phone?  
 
Repeatedly we hear about how much gets lost when communicating via e-mail instead of phone. What we don't hear about is what gets gained: thoughtfulness, efficiency, eloquence.  
 
Sure, e-mail has less "bandwidth" than a phone call. But a phone call has less bandwidth than face-to-face. We heard the same arguments being made against e-mail that we heard when the phone was first introduced. Why don't all of you who love the phone so much go and have face-to-face meetings instead? Stop picking up the phone and go for maximum bandwidth.  
 
Why? Because it's about tradeoffs. Each communication medium has different tradeoffs. Face-to-face requires travel time. Phone calls interrupt. E-mails lack tone. But each medium has benefits as well. 
 
Dharmesh has optimized his life around his preferences. Bravo for him. Just because you don't share the same preferences, or haven't figured out a way to align your life with your preferences, doesn't mean he's wrong.  
 
I, for one, agree with Dharmesh. I hate phone calls. I have learned to be decent enough at them, but these days I try to schedule all my phone calls and my productivity has increased dramatically. No more interruptions of thought and flow. 
 
Understand the tradeoffs you make when using each medium and use the mediums appropriately. And, certainly, if you have a preference, try to structure your life around those preferences.

posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 9:10 AM by Trevor Lohrbeer


Great Article, reflects exactly how I feel. As for the criticism you received, I wouldn't take it personally or pay attention to it, it comes from extroverts that do not understand anyone that is not like them, and perceive someone that is different as flawed and in need of therapy.

posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 3:07 PM by JB


Interesting post and comment thread. I don’t like to talk on the phone. I prefer email and in-person communication. I tend to respond to business phone calls in bulk for convenience (but I don't avoid them). I find that I am able to engage in more meaningful (and often shorter) conversations this way. I can put more thought into what each side needs to get out of the call. While I don't consider myself to be an introvert, I have been described as quiet. In many cases, I think that this has worked to my advantage. Be sure to check out "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain (http://ow.ly/fEVnV - link to The Book Depository). It has some interesting insights.

posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 3:43 PM by Sonia


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