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Technology and Interruption

 

Techniques > Conversation techniques > Interrupting > Technology and Interruption

The power of the phone | How it works | Using it in persuasion | See also

 

The power of the phone

There is a strange phenomenon that happens with technology -- when it calls, we drop everything to answer its demands. It all started with the phone, but now has crept up with email, instant messaging and more.

Particularly pervasive is the mobile technology that many of us now carry around. It all started with pagers, first used by emergency workers, but now many have at least mobile phones, which also carry text messaging services.

Blackberries, PDAs and other combinations devices are also allowing us to access email everywhere. Wireless technology is also creeping in and we can get to email on the move. Even in the heart of developing countries you can find internet cafés where you can check up on your electronic world.

How it works

The power of the phone starts with the insistent ringing that only stops when we answer it. Phones are not polite. They do not cough and say 'excuse me'. They just ring and ring. We know this, and so grab the thing just to stop it giving us a headache.

Phones also offer mystery and intrigue. When it rings, we may well not know who is calling. What if it is good news or a friend? What if it is someone who desperately needs our help? We had better pick up, just in case.

Even if we know who it is from, we do not know what they have to say until we listen or read the message. The need for certainty and control paradoxically then controls us as we seek to find out what it is all about.

Using it in persuasion

Sometimes you want to get to speak with another person but they are always busy -- in meetings, working or otherwise unavailable. The simplest solution can be, even if you are in the same office, to go back to your desk and phone or email the person. If you cannot see that they are busy, then you can be excused for interrupting them.

Avoiding the urge

When technology comes knocking, think first before answering the call. If you are talking with someone and the phone rings, ignore it or turn off your mobile cell phone. This not only keeps you in control, it also a very flattering for the person with you, who can see that you are putting them ahead of a phone call that perhaps they would answer.

See also

The need for: A sense of control, Attention principle

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