Phone Etiquette in the Digital Era: Think Before You Dial

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It’s Time Consuming and Inefficient
(especially for asynchronous communication)

It may only be seconds, but it takes much more time to process a voicemail message than it does a text-based message of some sort. This is especially true when the call comes from someone you’€™ve never heard from before or don’€™t know very well. You have to dial into the mailbox, listen to the message, find a pen, write down the contact information… And if the message isn’€™t clear, you may have to listen to segments of it over (and over). What was that last name? What that a 9 or a 1 in that phone number?

Plus, the contact information is often incomplete. People may leave one or two phone numbers, but they don’€™t usually offer their email address. Sometimes it makes more sense (and is more convenient) to return a message via email or under circumstances when calling is not a viable option (e.g., in the evening, while traveling). I was initially inspired to write this blog post on a Sunday morning, out of aggravation. I had a note from someone who had phoned me, and I wanted to message her back. She left a phone number in her voicemail, but I couldn’t call her. And I wasted at least 10 minutes trying – unsuccessfully -€“ to find an easy way to contact her via LinkedIn or email. My only option was to try to find time to call her back the following week, running the very real risk of continuing the game of phone tag she started. Grrr!

Finally, there’€™s the risk that the note we write the message on gets lost, or we forget about it. Yes, that can happen with emails and texts too, but those methods are less vulnerable to being overlooked.

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