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December 29, 2014


December 29, 2014

I am an ENFP (Extroversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perceiving) and this is a problem.  Why? Because I can’t call you. Which means I can’t talk to you, because you won’t talk back.  I also can’t empathize with your emoticon. It’s cute, with its raised eyebrows and gloved hand over its mouth, but I need to hear your voice. And I have learned (by way of certain emails being taken wayyyyy out of context), that you need to hear the tone in mine.  Myers Briggs describes me as “most satisfied in a work environment that is welcoming to people, innovative, and full of exciting possibilities. Perfect!  I work for SmallBox, where we’re all that and then some. There is just one problem… Nobody has an office phone… and for an ENFP– this can be a near death experience.

Yes – everyone has cell phones. They use them to text and tweet and take interesting pics of otherwise uninteresting things. They do not use them to talk.  This is a phenomena not restricted to my office. It seems that the whole world is in on the joke. Especially those slow processing, analytical INTP’s who want to think before they answer.

MB says that an ENFP will “initiate conversation and likes to communicate in person, either face-to-face or voice-to-voice”.  I did not make this up.   It says under INTUITION that I “consider context and interrelationships important”, and I say, “Don’t you?   Or, if I’m in a hurry, or don’t have my glasses on -- “Don’t you!”  Which is a whole different conversation. 

I realize that technology is supposed to make communication easier, but this is not about communication, it’s about conversation and there is a critical difference.  Some situations require conversation.  Not an email, not a text, but a good old fashioned, you say one thing, I say the next, and so on and so on, conversation.  Some questions should not be asked or answered in an email. Example:  “Did you remember to turn off the stove?”  Sure – it might seem easier to just type a quick email, but not if the answer to that question is “No” and you don’t get that answer until after the fire trucks arrive. 

Sometimes in business, the stove is on. Clients or colleagues (or you) have requests or problems that can’t wait until they make it to the top of the inbox.


As informal research, I asked Jordan, one of our developers, (an ESTP who prefers actions to long explanations), to give me a scenario where it would make more sense to pick up a phone and call a client rather than exchange a series of emails. After a prolonged (and torturous) pause to think, he told me about a prospective client whose web hosting service was threatening to shut them down because they found some malicious code in their Wordpress site. For a non-technical person like myself, just that sentence opened a Pandora’s box of follow-up questions… which exactly demonstrated his point. “If you’re a technical person talking with a non-technical person, you need to actually TALK.”  Sometimes the answer to a highly technical question (or extremely subjective one, in the case of design work) is followed by three or four additional, deeper and defining questions. This constitutes a discussion, which means you need to not only communicate – you need to have a conversation. 

I’m not implying that we give up email and text and go back to switchboards and receptionists.  Unlike Louis C.K., I love my cell phone -- it takes great pictures and gets me where I need to go! I have a full and healthy inbox every morning, and there are people, who will remain nameless, that I have on my “text only” list. But there is something to be said for the opening and closure of an actual phone call and for the critical context that only voice-to-voice conversation can ensure.

I’m an ENFP in business development, a natural conversationalist who is empathetic and curious, and way too dependent on a screen and keyboard. I used to say, “I talk for a living”, but now, a truer statement would be “I type for a living”. There are few things more frustrating to me than having a 10-minute conversation that takes three days of emailing. Productivity wanes when it awaits an answer behind JCrew emails and Google alerts. 

So, new rule for the new year-- Email and texts are for “need to know” information, but when “need to know” becomes “need to understand”, I’m picking up the phone and calling.

I just hope someone answers.  #LetsTalk

This post is a part of Think Kit by SmallBox.

Today's prompt: "If you could make a # (hashtag) take off...what would it be? What conversation do you want to have with the world? Who are the five people you'd want to hear from first...or last? Is your trending topic personal? Political? Lyrical? Or just random?"

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