Once upon a time, your home phone would ring.
You’d pick it up, and say,
There was that question mark attached to your greeting, because you genuinely didn’t know who was calling.
Then Caller ID was born, and suddenly you had the power of knowing who was on the other end of the line, before you picked it up.
Remember how intrusive the whole idea originally seemed?
(How you couldn’t call someone anymore and choose not to leave a message after they didn’t pick up, because they’d still know you called.)
Sure, you could choose to block your number, but most people didn’t.
Today, intentionally hiding your identity has become frowned upon as some sort of anti-social act.
(Why wouldn’t you want someone to know you’re calling?)
Yes, there’s the evil problem of Caller ID Spoofing, but let’s not go there…
Occasionally, ‘Unknown’ does show up on your Caller ID, but that’s not the norm…
So typically, you always know who’s there.
Use the Future Moment You Already Know
What do you do with all this ‘precog’ data?
Of course, you first check to see if it’s a telemarketer.
Then, if it’s a ‘real’ call, you decide if the caller is worthy of your precious time, or whether you should just let him go to voicemail.
(and then swallow that morsel of tech-induced guilt)
It’s a wonder anyone actually talks on the phone anymore…
Email and texting is so much simpler. Though it’s never quite as efficient…
(How many emails do you have to go through to clarify the same information as a one minute phone call?)
But if you do end up gracing the caller with your presence, riddle me this…
Why do you still say, “hello!?”
You already know who it is.
And they know you know.
And you know they know you know.
Why are we still playing this dated little social dance?
It’s some mannerly norm that’s long past retirement.
(In fact, you’re fibbing by not acknowledging what you really know.)
Of course it’s true…on the rare occasion, you might not know who’s there.
(Caller ID can fail, especially if your phone is part of some larger ecosystem, like at work.).
So in those situations you can still honestly sound curious and request the caller’s identity through the upswing in your voice.
Upfront Identity Recognition
Otherwise, shouldn’t we always begin every phone conversation with a form of Upfront Identity Recognition (UIR)?
Like simply declaring their first name.
Or just… “Hey!!!”
Or… “I was just thinking about you!!”
Or… “I told you never to call me again!”
(maybe not the last phrase)
Ignorance Is Not Bliss
Though I often engage in ‘UIR,’ I admittedly sometimes still fall back and unconsciously play the ignorance game.
(especially with someone I don’t know very well)
It’s like the act of ‘UIR’ is reserved only for your more personal relationships.
And if you don’t know the caller at all, I suppose your only appropriate opening line would need to have a question mark attached to it.
(That would really freak me out if I were calling you for the first time and you said, “Lester Barrett, it’s great to hear from you!”)
Say NO! to “Hello?”
Is this all simply a generational thing?
Do Millennials have this problem?
(They’ve spent their whole lives with Caller ID.)
Does anyone else?
Keep It Real!
Answering the phone is not a guessing game.
(and it hasn’t been for a long time!)
If you know who’s there, own it!!
They say knowledge is power.
Use your ‘UIR!!!’
Don’t you feel a little better?
Now, I do.