As I was making my recent job transition and rewriting the automatic signature for my work email, the thought crossed my mind to include a phone number. I'd always listed one because it was an office number and a pretty standard signature to include mailing address, email, and phone number (and, once upon a time not so long ago, fax).
But when faced with the options of including either my cell number or home landline number (which I don't have memorized and is mainly used by my mother and telemarketers), I really didn't want to put either. And then I realized that there's no one implying I should, and that if I didn't, I could be FREE!
You see, I hate the phone. For family and close friends, fine. But for unsolicited business conversation? No way. The thought of leaving my old office with no forwarding telephone number, and thus, no random strangers with bizarre questions (like "where does the guy who wrote that third letter to the editor you printed live?") calling me was too good to pass up.
I'm just not big on small talk and don't like getting trapped by people who want to tell you their life story. Plus, I don't like being put on the spot to give an answer. Chances are, the answer is "I'll need to look into that and get back to you," anyway. "Could I get your email address?"
I like to be able to think about my response, check my facts, articulate things well. It's why I'm a writer and editor and not a speaker or political pundit. It's a classic introvert quality. And in this day and age, when the written word is as close and quick as a phone call, I think email is a considerate way to let people respond at their convenience (which is why I only call a business contact if they are way past deadline and not responding to emails over a week-long period. Somebody's about to get one of those tomorrow. . . dum dum DUM!) It feels like just about anything that needs discussing can be done via email, with no garbled words, dropped calls, or misunderstandings resulting from the lack of a written copy of the conversation. And most things are done via email, making those pesky phone calls all the more out of place in an efficient workplace. (Some companies are even encouraging IM for intra-office discussions, rather than the phone or email.)
So during my first week working from home, I enjoyed my blessed solitude, emailing with potential writers for an upcoming issue of Circuit Rider, content that if the phone rang, it would probably be Matt, my mom, or a telemarketer (or DCS!) and not a random stranger putting me on the spot or talking my ear off.
It was maybe my second day using my phone-numberless email signature that I got the reply, "I think I can meet that deadline. Could you call me to discuss things further?"
Sigh. Alas, I can't escape the phone altogether, but I can try.
What about you? Do you prefer email or phone? Or texting? Or maybe IM? Personally, IM gives me flashbacks to my freshman year of college, but maybe it's your thing!
I'm Jessica Miller Kelley, a working mom, pastor's wife, and editor in Nashville, Tennessee. I edit MinistryMatters.com and Circuit Rider magazine. I have two beautiful girls, Kate and Claire, and love scrapbooking, reading, wine and cheese, theological discussion, and having fun as a family.