Bilateral conference call

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Conference Call Anatomy™
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Also known as a “telephone call”.

How much time has been wasted and exasperation wrought on the world by this fashion of scheduling bilateral conference calls, which both parties must dial into, rather than the traditional, and perfectly sensible, practice of just calling the other person up?

Certainly, if you expect the JC to be paying attention to his Outlook calendar — a matrix which, like a bathroom mirror, frightens and revolts him at the best of times — you have another think coming. You will have to call him to coax him into dialing in, in which case —

Just call me, okay?

But there is a more practical objection: time. Not only do pre-arranged calls, like judder bars, break up the flow of one’s day, thus interrupting you from getting on with what you would otherwise rather be doing (which, Q.E.D. won’t be speaking to this interlocutor: if it was, you would be calling her) but, thanks to the tyranny of Microsoft Outlook, they will commit you to at least quarter and probably half an hour.[1] And if you give a legal eagle a quarter-hour to say something, she will take it. But no telephone conversation needs to be that long.

Furthermore, there is a delay. We can allow that, while your problem won’t be the most pressing matter for me, for you to be dealing with it, it must be for you, in which case delaying resolution of your problem until the morning of Tuesday next week, as by scheduling a bilateral call we are proposing to do, injects four days of waste into whatever project it is you are running.

Lastly, if you are in written exchanges with someone about a bilateral call you would like to have with them tomorrow, you have already interrupted their flow: you have already stopped them from doing whatever else it was that they were doing. So, seeing as most calls can be dispensed with in five minutes just pick up the goddamn phone and get it over with.

See also


  1. Why do we say “half an hour” but “quarter of an hour”, by the way? And why is “trousers” plural?