The violation I decided to do was to take a notebook with me at all times, and in the next four telephone calls I received, I would be completely silent. By violating the expectation that I would talk to them, I would note the caller’s reaction to my utter and complete silence; they would know that I had picked up, but was not answering them. I made the stipulation that, if it was a call from work, I would take it however; work was excised from the callers I would perform the violation on.
The first person to call was my mother. She called in the afternoon; I picked up and let the call hang there, with me saying nothing. She said ‘Hello’ for a few seconds several times, then “Can you hear me? I think your reception is bad.” She waited about five more seconds then said, “Okay, I’ll try later. Bye.” Then she hung up the phone. This reaction was fairly normal; sometimes, I have bad reception on my cell phone, so my mom will often lose the call with me. To that end, she reacted to this violation as though it were a normal phone hiccup, and she just expected to call me later and talk to me, hoping that the reception would be better.
The second person to call was my sister. She called, I picked up, and I said nothing. “Hey baby brother,” was her first sentence. Then, a bit bored sounding, she said, “You there?” then “Hello?” in a long, drawn-out, sarcastic voice. “All right, call you later dork.” This was par for the course with my sister; she was always nonplussed, never taking things too seriously. She sounded a little irritated, but she wasn’t letting it get to her. Both of these violations had worked out pretty well so far, as I had not ruffled any feathers or made anyone upset. Both of them knew how bad I normally am at phone conversations with my reception, so they just thought it was another thing where I just couldn’t get through to them.
The third person to call was my friend Ryan. I picked up the phone and didn’t say anything, as per the violation. “Hey what’s going on?” he said. “You there?” he said again. “Hey, pick up, I think I butt-dialed you. HEY!” He started shouting, hoping to get my attention through the speaker. “All right, whatever,” he then said after giving up, a bit irritated. My assumption is that he thought that he had called me, my phone accidentally took the call in my pocket due to rubbing up against my leg, and he was shouting at me to see if I could hear him over the speaker grille. Basically, like my mom and sister, he assumed that the violation wasn’t actually a violation, but just some mistake that meant we weren’t actually talking.
The fourth person to call was my father. The phone rang several times before I picked up and listened without saying anything. “Are you there son?” he asked, seemingly a bit out of breath. “Hello?” he said, then he said my name a few times into the phone in the form of a question. His prompting became more agitated as he got annoyed that I wasn’t speaking to him. “Look, are you okay? Call me back when you see I’ve called.” Then he hung up. He seemed very agitated at the start of the call, but seemed understanding about not being able to reach me. He didn’t seem to blame me at all for not talking to him, assuming something else had happened (even asking if I was okay). That was a strange experience, and easily the oddest of the calls I got.
In conclusion, I learned a great many things about how people react to these violations. When it is coming from someone they know, they will always give the benefit of the doubt. No one thought I was messing with them or violating them, as they just assumed there was something wrong with the phone or the call process itself. Everyone seemed fairly calm, if a bit annoyed, except for my dad (who has a tendency to be neurotic a bit at times as well). Everyone I engaged in this intervention with the expectation to have people be upset at me; no one was. Instead, everyone just seemed upset at the outcome of the conversation, and the fact that technology was keeping us from talking. I learned through this violation that people will assume the best, and not respond overly harshly to greeting them with silence. They will assume that I can hear them, but can’t respond, usually using that to say what they wanted to say anyway. This way, they could still get across the feeling that they had a conversation instead of stopping mid-sentence. These are the primary things I took away from this violation, which went a lot more smoothly than I thought (despite feeling a bit bad at doing this to friends and family).