Perhaps with all the technology at our finger tips we’ve lost sight of the basics. At least it would excuse some of the behavior I’ve observed and sometimes become frustrated with when I receive or initiate a simple telephone call. Granted we have many options, cell phone, land line, texting, Voice over IP, etc. but there should be some ground rules understood by all to achieve the desired effect.
First off, what’s the reason for placing a call? Does your call have a purpose? If the telephone has a purpose other than a status symbol maybe we need to look at what frequently happens during a call.
If the party you wish to connect with has voice mail, then leave a message. I found out that many people who use automated dialers don’t realize how they work. When a call is placed and a connection is made to a person’s voice mail, often the voice mail message is short. The caller picks up the phone and doesn’t hear anything because the “please leave a message after the tone”1 has already been announced and rather than leave a message, the caller is confused and thinks they didn’t connect.
Trust me, you hear nothing on the other end because you have already connected but your delay between placing the call and picking up the phone is too long. Go ahead and leave a message, take the risk, what have you to lose except a few seconds?
Next is my number one frustration with people using a phone. When you place or receive a call stick with the call you started, don’t give me that stuff about, I got another call and need to put you on hold. If the call or the person you talk to is important, then stay with it. People that want to take multiple calls as if the world depended on them answering each call annoy me. I want to reach through the phone and wring their neck. The feeling is your conversation isn’t all that important. If you can’t let the call slide to voice mail then you don’t understand the purpose of voice mail. Clearly if the other person is that hard to reach so you just have to take their call, maybe it makes some sense, but really, how often is that the situation?
Aren’t we all acting like puppets or is it that we don’t have enough respect for the person we are currently talking with to complete the conversation?
Here’s a variation of the interrupted phone call. I was in a job interview and while there were two people interviewing me, one of them was text messaging throughout the meeting under the table. Perhaps he thought I wouldn’t notice when he held it under the table. The clincher for me was when he asked me if I could be respectful of others when working in a close team operation. I held back what I really wanted to say which was, you are an absolute inconsiderate jerk, you show up to the scheduled meeting 40+ minutes late, text message while sitting across from me, then have the nerve to ask that type of question. I thought this person doesn’t have a clue as to what respect is all about. I answered politely none the less, ‘I’m very used to working in a close team and can respect the ideas of others.’
I’m sure these thoughts on telephone use and etiquette aren’t universally shared, so what do you think?
Clever telephone answering messages
1. Hi, I’m not currently in this galaxy now but my answering machine is, so talk to it instead. Wait for the beep.
2. You have picked a time when I can’t come to the phone, either pick another random time to call or leave a message so I can call you.
3. Jeeves is off somewhere larking about, I obviously can’t come to the phone but this modern device called an answering machine will faithfully transcribe your message after the tone. Thank you.
4. One of us doesn’t seem to be in the same place at the same time, I think it’s my answering machine’s turn to be here, so go ahead and talk to it instead. Hold for the beep…
5. Well shucks, I’ve been waiting for your call for hours and just when I thought you weren’t going to call, you did. The best I can do is ask you to leave a message for me on this new contraption. You have to wait a moment until it burps or something like that.