Thursday, 31 January 2013

Phone Phobic

I don't like using the phone - well that's not entirely true.... I don't mind chatting on the phone (for hours and hours actually) to friends and family - or even the bank etc as long as I can do it in English.


That is the thing you see, I can do phone calls in German - book appointments, arrange play dates, change all these arrangements most apologetically and so on, but I don't like to.  Being able to converse confidently on the phone in another language is quite a skill.  Indeed, being able to do so in your own language can be tricky - you see, when we talk on the phone, so many of the other communication tools and clues we rely on in everyday life are missing and that makes it very difficult.

In my native language, I'm confident in judging by tone and tempo how a phone conversation is going and what the subtexts of the conversation are - I just can't do that in German.  Indeed, I rely heavily on gesture when I speak German as mine is really not that good and I obviously can't do it on the phone.

According to this some researchers have put non-verbal communication as forming up to 80% of communication - with this comprising body language, gesture, posturing, eye-contact, clothing etc all of which give the participants a myriad of clues as to what is going on - and of course, all of this is absent in a a phone call.

So added to the fact that you miss a lot by relying solely on the verbal, and that my German skills still leave a lot to be desired talking on the phone can be a bit of a trial.  I plan in my head as far as possible what I want to say - but am often thrown by a response which I either mishear / don't fully understand / wasn't expecting - and then try to bluff my way onwards which as I usually rely heavily on hand gestures can be an interesting experience in murdering a language! I generally succeed in getting my point across and booking that appointment.....but I sometimes come away from the phone call not being 100% sure I've done what I set out to do - oh and did I get the time right..... half past and half to is just another one of those things designed to throw me!

So often, I chicken out and pop into wherever it is I need to call and have the conversation in person, I find it easier that way.....

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