Am I the last to notice that we no longer “hang up” our phone?
iPhone screen showing END buttonWhile calling a prospect today, the voice mail system instructed me to “hang up, or dial 3” after leaving my message. You and I hear that same phrase dozens of times a day and until this morning, have thought nothing of it. We no longer hang up when a call is over. We end calls. My iPhone has a red button with the word END on it. The wireless house phone isn’t hung up, but rather laid down (until the battery runs flat, at which time it is placed in the charging cradle).
Come to think of it, few of us dial our phones. We poke or push. I’m getting used to Siri calling my frequent contacts.
So, what’s my point?
I am trying to be more accurate in my communication with others. Clarity in conversation–written and verbal–is something I see as a way of reducing confusion and improving outcomes. The word used to describe an action taken at the completion of a telephone call is certainly a minor point compared to more important issues, but if I can train myself to speak precisely on insignificant things, it should be easier to add clarity in other areas.
If conversation clarity is something you’d like to tackle, here’s an exercise that will help you get started:

  1. For the next 24 hours, listen during your conversations with others for phrases that have ambiguous or imprecise meanings. One of the current such buzz-terms is “at the end of the day.”
  2. Make a note of these–write them down or speak them into a voice memo app.
  3. Review your notes at some point and translate the jargon into a more precise version of what the real intent was.
  4. Then, try to work your new and improved version of the phrase into a conversation. If you can fit the new phrase into your normal dialog a minimum of nine times in just a few days, it will start to fell natural and you can move on the next.

Make it a game. By reducing the number of outdated or superfluous phrases in your vocabulary, you will be making the world a more productive place.