Upon receipt this morning of a letter from a frustrated daughter who has moved away, and who seems to be calling at times when we just are not available to chat, I responded with a letter myself.
Part of my letter included the following and it dawned on me that this information which has helped me, may help some of you as well.
Phone Etiquette to enhance your relationships
I too find it frustrating to call home when I am away at conferences, or at classes or meetings, etc.
While away, whenever I phone home it's usually not a good time to chat, mostly because the people at home are already involved in an activity which requires their attention apart from our discussion. If the call is for a specific purpose then it's less of an interruption and we can proceed through the call in a swift and efficient manner. In that way I am seen as less of an interruption.
Your Mom: "Hello."
Me: "Can you pick me up at the airport at 8:45?"
Your Mom: "Why yes I can and let me just say I'd love to do that!"
Me: "Thank you for your kindness and willingness to pick me up."
Your Mom: "You are most welcome sir."
Me: "Farewell then."
Your Mom: "Goodbye, and see you at 8:45pm."
And there you go.
I have not interrupted their rhythm at home and they feel like they can take the time required to work out the specifics.
This kind of a call is much better received when I call home from a distance.
Contrast that kind of a call to one where the general purpose is vague and convoluted.
Your Mom: "Hello."
Me: "whatcha doin?"
Your Mom: "Nothin. whatcha doin?"
Me, (because I've had more time to prepare for the call than she has and have thought out the answer before she has,): "Talkin to you..."
And so on.
She gets impatient because I am interrupting her dish washing, or her clay work, or her washing up to go to bed.
Your Mom: "Is that all?"
Your Mom: "Well then, what else?"
Me: "I dunno, I'm just alone."
You see, if the person who calls has a specific purpose, then the call taker is willing to help the loved one with the process of gaining the needed information.
If it looks like the call has no specific purpose then it's better for the caller and callee to have prearranged a time when they will talk on the phone together.
This allows both parties to be emotionally prepared for the call, ready to invest in the call, and their relationship.
It goes something like this;
Cuckoo clock cuckoos 10 times.
Your Mom: "Hello?"
Me: "Hello, it's me!"
Your Mom: "Why, thank you for calling at our pre-arranged time!"
Me: "Is it ok to chat now?"
Your Mom: "Why yes it is. I've washed the dishes and put the boys to bed and I'm ready and willing to commit to a general conversation regarding the quality of your day. Please proceed."
Me: "Well, the other pastors laughed at me today because we went swimming and they saw the hairy arrow on my back and now they won't stop calling me Hairy Arrow Backed Friesen. This makes me want to cry into my pillow. Pastors can be so mean sometimes."
Your Mom: "Yes they can, but you're better than them. Did you call them names back?"
Me: "Well I could only think of one good one quickly enough. The Rev. Peter Penner has a big pompadour on his head so I yelled at him that so what he was Pompadour Pete!"
Your Mom: "Well next time I'll help you get the rest of the hair off your back and they won't bug you any more. But for now why don't you sneak into their hotel rooms and steal all their free shampoo!"
Me: "Yeah, thanks, that'll teach them. I feel better already. Thanks for this prearranged phone call."
Your Mom: "You're welcome, I'm so glad I could help affirm you and build our relationship."
Me: "Me too. Now, how was your day?"
And so the conversation can continue with a healthy, caring dialogue.
With the pre-arranged phone call, both individuals can be prepared emotionally for the phone call. They are then ready to invest in their relationship. It's like making an arrangement to meet for coffee and a visit.
So, the next time you have to travel and still want that home based connection, try the simple step of having the prearranged phone call.
Your spouse and children will love you for it. And you will be able to sleep peacefully all night, knowing that all is well.