This week there was an item in the news that caught my attention. It was a fascinating study that was researched by the telephony department of the British Post Office. They studied 2000 people and and asked them what they liked and disliked about talking on the telephone. They turned that data into a formula for making the perfect phone call. It should last 9 minutes and 36 seconds and even includes 12 seconds of silence between the parties.
They’ve actually broken it down to the second of what topics “should” be covered in how much time. The biggest slice, 3 minutes, is to be spent catching up with news about family and friends, with the next largest portions devoted to 1 minute each on personal problems, work or school, and general topics.
The other 3 minutes and 36 seconds include 42 seconds talking about current affairs, 24 seconds on the weather, and 12 seconds of celebrity gossip. Chat about the opposite sex should last 24 seconds, and the perfect conversation includes 42 seconds of time spent laughing. The person who was found to be called the most was mom.
According to the London Telegraph, the head of telephony at the Post Office, Hugh Stacey, said: “This research shows us what people really want from a chat on the phone. People obviously value news about their loved ones, with news about family and friends topping the charts. Psychotherapist Christine Webber was quoted in another London paper saying: “Regular contact with friends or family brings down blood pressure, lowers cholesterol and may stave off dementia.”
Well, even though only 3% reported dad as the person they spoke to, compared to 20% who talked to mom, I have to say my family must be a little different. We’ve had an unwritten rule in my family since my brother and I left for college in the 1970′s to call home once a week and it seemed to be my father that enforced it. Since my mother died in 2001, it hasn’t changed. It must work for him, since he just turned 83 and she died at 72 with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and dimentia.
The thing that gets me, though, is that as a teenager, back in the day of princess phones, busy signals, and one phone line, I got yelled at almost daily for tying up the line with my girl friends. We certainly skewed the statistics with a lot more time spent on gossip, the opposite sex and laughing, and I don’t think we ever got off in less than an hour.
Every night I remember my father opening my door and yelling at me to get off and stop tying up the line. I can still hear his voice in my head drilling the same old line as I was forced to hang up, “You can say everything you need to say on the phone in 10 minutes!!!” I always thought he was nuts. Who knew that someday they would prove he was right?