It’s been a busy week at Jolles Associates, Inc.  I spent over five hours on the phone with various people I professionally coach.  We were working on strategies to reignite sales that centered on the emails they were writing.  We were going to get out of the box, reach out, and touch someone, figuratively of course.  After all, we’re talking about emails here.

When I came home my wife was asking me to do the same thing.  She needed to reach out and make a few difficult connections in her business.  She came to the right person.  At the risk of sounding arrogant, I can write a damn good email.  When I’m on my game, I am to email writing what van Gogh  was to Potato Eaters.  (Let’s remove the word, “risk” here; there is some serious arrogance in that statement.)

Then my daughter who was trying to reach out and sell someone herself from the cozy confines of Syracuse University contacted me.  Super Arrogant Email Dad to the rescue!  I wrote her a beauty.

I’d like to tell you it was a difficult week, but in fact it was an easy week.  Not only was I able to help all those I was working with to find the words they needed to write, I wrote a few beauties of my own.  Oh, I was one emailing, client selling machine.

And therein lies the problem.

What the heck happened to picking up a phone, punching in a number, and actually speaking to a client?  I’ll tell you what happened to it; we found an easier, safer way to try and communicate.  While we were at it, we found a far less successful way to communicate.  I’m not talking about writing the in-laws about the trials and tribulations at Camp Winnapookie.  I’m talking about communicating and persuading, and selling ourselves to others.  I’m talking about the difficult calls we have now found an email safe haven to avoid.  You know the calls I’m talking about.  These are the calls that when you can no longer think of the most trivial possible thing to do that can delay them a moment longer, you sit with baited breath praying you’ll get a voice message.  That way you can leave a message that will allow you to con yourself into believing you have fulfilled your communication duties.

If you really think you’ll be getting a call back from this difficult call you made, and glorious message you’ve left, that’s quite a dream you have going there.  If you believe that you probably think that employer who told you years ago, “We can’t use you now, but we’re going to keep your resume in our file and call you if the right job comes along” is actually going to call you when the right job comes along.

I’m talking about a technology that has allowed us to con ourselves into believing that well-written words are more powerful then well-spoken words.  Well they aren’t, and no email is going to be more powerful than a phone call, but somewhere down deep in all of us we know that.

So what keeps us from making these calls?  That, I can answer in one word; rejection.  When you write an email, there are two ways to get rejected, and both are rather pleasant.  One is to never have your email returned.  We can live with that.  The other is to have someone else who is afraid to pick up the phone and reject you, put some well-written words together and reject you.  We can live with that too, and feel the circle of communication completed.

I’d like you to join me this coming week for what I’m calling, “Pick up the phone week.”  We’re not allowed to write any emails to people we know we should be calling.  We’re not talking ourselves out of it, giving up after one or two attempts, or pretending that our pen is sharper than our mouth.  It isn’t, and if you join me in “Pick up the phone week” I’ll bet you’ll be very happy with the results.  Who knows, maybe we can work our way to, “Pick up the phone month” someday soon.  Just think of the possibilities.

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