It’s going around you know. Scheduling a call to schedule a call. Framing the interaction with a friend or associate, assigning a distinction to the call, giving it gravitas. This is what I noticed in the midst of a discussion this morning with my husband. We get to the details of our lives, and determine the direction we’re headed and basically check in, share our calanders. Suddenly I looked at my weekly schedule and saw something new: pages filled with scheduled calls.
Let’s schedule a call are the words that come up pretty often lately. And I’ve caught the bug. Let’s talk, but not now, let’s schedule a call is the new thing. It’s how I negotiate my relationships and my time. But wait,… really? How did this happen? What is the need to create this distance in time and space? Do I want to formalize my interactions with people by scheduling a call, my questions? And my response was: No, this is getting out of hand, and not what I want to do. But can you turn the tide, unring the bell of the common core of relating these days?
I declared a New rule today: no scheduling a call unless someone is out of my time zone. There truly is a very good reason to text and schedule a call if there is difference of time zones. My family and some very good friends live on the East Coast and the three hour difference is an issue. Carol is in the middle of her day when I get out of bed and I am moving toward the gym when she is having her lunch break. When my brother calls me, it’s a little late, 9 or 10 pm EST, but and only 6 or 7 pm PST for me, finding a good time to visit. Big difference in our energy levels and interest in a what we’re up to conversation wise. Because of those differences, we schedule our calls.
But why all of a sudden that’s how I’m relating to everyone? Kind of an automatic response. I really want to talk to Lonnie about her research, but if I set up a call we can determine the limits and content of the call before we speak. Not hanging out, which is how I used to do my phoning just two years ago. First my friends went to email, and I adjusted. Actually I thought it was better because I could be sure that when they got my email, they had the time and focus on my email; there was the certainty that I wasn’t calling at a bad time and not having their full attention. But then these same folks started texting. No more, Hi-how are you, which would inevitably maybe because of my tone or theirs, turn into a real conversation and an exploration of how thing were really going for them, and for me.
Somewhere after we established a connection in those phone calls, there would be a sharing of the upset with someone in their universe that had not been communicated, or my revealing hurt feelings that someone in my life was responsible for; it always seemed like once shared in the intimacy of a phone call, there would be a relief, a lightening up and letting go. Sometimes I would end up talking about my worries and concerns that I had no idea I would bring up when I dialed their number. That’s right, “dialed their number.” Oh my goodness, that’s what it is; that’s what happened. Now I remember, when we started pushing the buttons(when the black phones with the dial were replaced by the beige push button phones, it was a shortly thereafter that we began to to move to push text buttons. That’s how all this had happened. The slippery slope from the black home phones to texting.
Texting never really felt that great to me. For about a year, even with my best friends, I responded very coolly if at all to text. You can’t even ask how I am, you just want to text: “Thursday 10 am OK with you.” How important can I be if that is the investment by you in our communication I thought. Texts that were less than a full sentence most often.
But then I was getting used to texting. I got it, It is kinda nice to just put out your purpose, and get your response comes back with a ding usually within minutes. No email to wait for; no problem with a missed call; you can text on your iphone and roll. Anywhere you go you can call anywhere and no one knows where you are. Not like the old days when you called someone’s home and they had a cute message with a sexy greeting. Changing plans via text is a nightmare, it was true but I was adapting. But now, now it’s all about scheduling a call.
What that means to me is a delay, and putting a distance between me and that other and being wedded to my calendar. 2 pm Thursday looks like a good idea when you write it down, but then stuff happens and since at the very least you’ve exchanged 3-5 texts establishing a mutual time and then confirming the time you agree on, to cancel seems just wrong. So there you sit at the coffee shop at the grocery or at the side of the road having your scheduled call. But what I noticed for myself was it’s a way to resist and distance myself, gives me time to get my act together, be deliberate and monitor my state of being around the “call.” It’s significant, it’s important-not just a casual check in-a call.
Not that scheduling a call isn’t a good thing, not that it doesn’t have value, it does. Partnering while on a project is a good use of the scheduled call. It sets up you up to prepare for the call and survey your intentions and your actions to see that they correspond when you have taken on a task or tasks. Sets a deadline for results that take you down the line to accomplishing what you set out to do. Gives you the accountability that a partner provides as witness to what you said you would do and what you did, and where the problems emerged if they did. Breaks the membrane as a friend of mine used to say, brings you into the present the scheduled call with an agenda to be fulfilled by the call.
Another use of the scheduled call is that you make a person or the commitment you share a priority, it underlines the value the scheduling implies. This is a visit, but this is a productive call the scheduled call implies.
But for me, just me, I want to reduce the distance and loop back to some of the intimate and spontaneous contact with friends and spare myself nothing in being present to them and to the energy we create together, and “schedule my calls” but not as a steady means to communicate. How about you? How do you feel about “scheduling your calls?”