Thursday, September 27, 2012

Phone vs. Email

Yes, today's topic is the epic, unending battle between evil and eviler: picking up the phone versus sending a message into the ether. Whether you use prefer the phone or email (or are better at one or the other) may depend on any number of factors, including (i) whether at any time you carried a beeper and thought it was cool, (ii) you think "that 70s show" refers to M*A*S*H* or (iii) you ever were a banker. So think about what category you are in first, then tell yourself, "shit (wo)man, I should figure out how to expand my toolbox so that instead of just building bridges with steel and mortar, I can build them with rainbows and dreams too..." (or visa versa).  Anywho, this will be more of a bullet-point post, with some basics, and some other tips I find useful. But let me first preface: I myself prefer e-mail.  I *hate* it when people call me, whether it's a client, another lawyer, head hunter, telemarketer, wrong number, a friend, the lottery, whatever; I don't give a flying fuck rat's ass.  When I see my phone go off, I literally sigh with the weight of the world as it would weigh on Jupiter on steroids (think about it), because people don't call you unless they want something...from me. Or, even if they don't want to, they are giving you something that you asked for, which means now it's my turn to do something with that information.  And, even if they aren't doing that, it interrupts me, my train of thought, my crossword puzzle, my daily show session, my nap, and takes up my precious time.  However, the phone is not without it's uses.  Because if you think about it, the phone has two ends -- yes two! -- so if I wanted to, I could be that bastard on the line asking for shit. I guess that is the crux. But anyway on to the list.

  • e-mail leaves a record that survives forever and ever, especially if you are emailing a bank. be careful and don't be stupid when you write something stupid. phone +1.
  • e-mail leaves a record for CYA purposes, so that if you ever need to go back and say to someone who is accusing you of being negligent or stupid, you can say, "hey dipshit, look at this email that I sent you that proves you are full of beans!" email + 1.
  • if you call someone, they tend to call you back, unannounced, unexpected. email + 1.
  • when you negotiate something simple, email allows you lay out, carefully and thoughtfully, your entire argument before the other side has a chance to say a word. i find this very effective on discrete points, short documents like NDAs or side letters or whatever. email + 1.
  • sometimes, picking up the phone is just fucking faster. phone +1.
  • phones allow you (if the other person isn't dodging your calls) to get an immediate response, and if desired, put someone else on the spot, to gauge their reaction. phone +1.
  • you can't be sarcastic in emails without trying really hard. phone + 1.
  • there is some obsessive compulsion among lawyers and other professionals to constantly check email, on their smartphone, or whatever, leaving you connected all the time. this is a negative if you care about life. (tip: you can leave your smartphone at home when you go to work - why the fuck do you need it at work? and you can also make it so that it doesn't buzz or light up when you get emails - it's a type of self-contract that will help you stay true to the self you want to be. a similar thing i do sometimes is mute my desk phone...hehe.) phone + 1.
  • phones have given birth to the 'conference call', which people want to have all the fucking time sometimes for no reason at all except so that they can try and get people to stroke their stupid egos. why don't they have email conference calls? like chat rooms. that would be good because then you can all attend remotely in your underwear and use slang like "LOL" and "STFU" and "WTF" and when the older people ask you what you are saying you can make it a game to come up with appropriate phrases (think "Wow! That's Fantastic!"). email + 1.
  • you can download a super cool customizable ringtone for your phone. phone +1. 
  • you can do ALL sorts of tricky shit with email, like get read receipts, delay delivery, copy and paste, forward, put on a cool signature block, close deals, contact your long-lost Nigerian prince cousin who is going to give you bucket loads of cash; the possibilities are endless.  (tip: have you ever been in the situation where you send a quick email to someone, and that someone tends to like to reply via PHONE and you like me think the sound of other people's voices sound like how green poo probably tastes, one thing I like to do is delay my email send by just a few minutes, send it, and then walk out of my office to the bathroom, gym, lunch, whatever - they may call, and ask you to call them back, and if you don't call them back because you are 'out', they may eventually give up and write you an email response (win!); conversely, you can always return missed calls with email - double win!!) email +1.
  • in email you have to worry about typos, syntax, grammar.... or most people do. phone + 1.
  • emails you can always ignore and come up with some excuse later. it's like time shifting from the future or something like that. phones are harder to ignore, especially if you've got that really cool ringtone on it. email +1.
  • when you are upset, you can bang the phone and not worry about liability that much, but if you punch your computer screen or smash your blackberry on the pavement, you might be out a few hundred bucks. phone +1.
So what's the final tally??

Who cares, actually, you should get off both your phone and email and go outside for once; maybe play some sports. You can always bring your phone/email, just like these guys.


  1. Missed you, CML. Keep the good fight alive.

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