Every day we’re on the phone with people, and we notice they are going through emails, or surfing the web, while talking with us. Everyone I speak with has this experience, regularly.
How do we notice this? Because we notice that the person we are speaking with is not engaged with us. We notice that the flow of conversation is broken. We notice that the other person has no idea what we just said. We hear the clicks of their keyboard.
I wrote a post back in December called, Are you here? in which I encouraged readers to call people out if they are not paying attention during a conversation, particularly a phone conversation.
My brother Phil and I were talking tonight, and we were trying to decide on a clever way to do this. We were looking for a short, powerful phrase to say to people that would have the meaning of, “Hey, are you with me? I’d love it if you would stop looking at your computer screen and focus on our conversation!”
We first thought about yelling out, “Slimy!” because for years we’ve pronounced the word “emails” backwards as “slimy,” as in, “I’m going to go fire up my laptop and check my slimy.” But, I know, that’s way to obscure. (Oh, did I forget to mention, Phil and I have a very strange habit of speaking backwards with each other? We’ve been doing it since we were little kids. Can you see how “emails” would be “slimy?”)
Do you have any great suggestions for this call out?
It might be as simple as, “Are you with me?”
Or, “Is now a good time to talk?”
Or, “Would you like me to wait?”
Or, “If you’re transcribing this conversation, be sure to spell my name correctly. It’s S-T-E ..”
Or, “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,” just to test if they are listening.
I’d love your suggestions. (And, of course, if you ever notice me doing “slimy” while we’re on the phone, you have my permission to call me out, with whatever phrase you want.)