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Why The Phone's Answering Machine Is Awkward To Use

Updated on August 10, 2012

The Answering Machine

The answering machine, or the ever-popular voicemail, can be awkward to use. I refer to both the act of creating a taped message and the act of leaving a message on another person's machine.

Let's start with the first concept, creating of the voice message for your own answering machine.

Do You Really Sound Like That?
Do You Really Sound Like That? | Source

Ack, I Sound Like THAT? Really?

And so it happens. You create a new message for your answering machine. That way, when people call your land-line, they will know to leave you a message. They will also confirm that they have called the right phone number when they hear your voice. Simple enough. Or is it?

You confidently press the "record" button and leave a message. You explain the process to leave messages after the tone. Perhaps you should play it back to ensure the words make sense.

Big problem. Do you really sound like that?

You wonder if your voice was always so screechy and, if it has always been like that, why did no one ever tell you? You could have undergone years of vocal lessons and even developed a British accent like Madonna.

Voice never seem to sound the same on playback. Have you ever noticed that?

Well, you think, now you will have to change the message. You are intimidated and scared to re-do the message.

Questions you ask yourself include:

  • How do I make my voice sound casual and relaxed?
  • How do I not sound needy?
  • How do I tweak the screechy tone of my voice to sound more pleasant?

Yes, you are intimidated by a little device called the answering machine.

You phone a friend.
You phone a friend. | Source

The Mid-Sentence Beep

Let's explore the second way that the answering machine is an intimidating device. The second way involves leaving a message on somebody else's machine.

You phone a friend and get his answering machine or electronic voice-mail. You really do need to get a hold of him, so you listen to his preamble that includes suggesting you leave your name, phone number, and a brief message to alert him to phone you back.

As you listen to his preamble, you start to compose in your head what you will say when you hear the beep to start recording your message. Include your name, why you need him to phone you back tonight, and... Well yes he already has your phone number. You wonder if he has it memorized? Has he added it to the contact list in his smart phone? What if--


Your thought pattern is broken and you are brought back to reality.

Uh oh. Now what were you going to say?

As you start to talk you notice you are saying "um" several times and that your words are hurried. You slow the pace. And then the ultimate disaster occurs.

That's right.

A second beep sounds as you are halfway through a sentence. You have extended past the three minute limit for his answering machine messages. Your heart races as you imagine him listening to you talking and then laughing as you are cut off mid-sentence.

You glare at the telephone. You consider phoning back to complete your sentence in a second message. You are intimidated. You feel awkward.

Now That You Have Left The Message...

You decide against phoning him back as you may make another mistake. Better to leave as is. Instead, you contemplate the answering machine itself.

The answering machine intimidates people in several other ways:

  • You are waiting for your friend to listen to the machine and then phone you back in return. You are a prisoner to the machine. Your voice, however screechy it sounds, is locked into that machine now. Your voice message is taped.
  • How did you sound on the message? You can't change it now. Ackk!
  • You wonder, "Did the machine work correctly? Did it really tape me?" We have all experienced at some point leaving a voice-mail for a person and later finding out the intended recipient never received it. So there are glitches that can occur.

Do not over-think what happened.
Do not over-think what happened. | Source

Now What?

The answering machine and voice-mail are intimidating devices. Whether you are leaving a message for another person or composing your own preamble for any calls you receive, the process can be a difficult one.

Do not over-think the vocal processes.

Even if you do feel embarrassed about a message that you leave, the recipient may not even notice an awkward tone in your voice or the high pitch of your voice. Even better, that friend or family member may think you sound sweet and that your words are genuine. Do not assume you know a reaction before it occurs.

Also, remember that people are often in a hurry. They may be listening to your messages as they make dinners for their families, or while sorting piles of laundry. Their undivided attention is likely not on your voice or over-analyzing every word you say.

If you are still worried about the particular message you have left on another person's answering machine, explain the next time you talk to the individual that you were nervous or other factors that affected the message quality.

Be genuine and honest. People are more understanding than you may realize and, in the scheme of things, a poor message is not an earth-shattering mistake. Keep your worries in perspective and try not to be awkward when using the answering machine.

Have You Ever Been Embarrassed By A Message You Left For A Friend?

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    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Rajan, how kind of you to stop by to read, vote and comment. I really do appreciate that took the time for my hub.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very interesting and true as hell. I think most of us have passed through this phase one time or the other.

      I like your analysis at the end that we have this unfounded fear of sounding alien when we hear our voice when the person who is listening might well not be listening to how we sound at all.

      Voted up all the way.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks Vinaya. I'm glad I am not alone in the intimidation factor! Take care.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      I don't have answering machine but every time my call is entertained by the machine I feel awkward to talk to who knows what.

      Your views are interesting.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I am glad you like the humour here Marc! I recently left a message and had a flashback to a time I said 'um' several times during the recording... then I proceeded to write this hub! Thanks for your visit and encouragement.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Awe, Doreen I have the opposite situation where my voice is a higher one. Can you imagine us together?! Thanks for the comment.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi Rolly, thanks for stopping by to read. I try to sound natural in my greeting and hope that comes across to my callers :)

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Christy... great hub and one that makes you think of the "Recording" as you have put it. Over the years I have tried many but the old standard seems to stay put. A nice greeting works all the time.

      Hugs from over the Big Rocks...

    • profile image

      DMartelonline 5 years ago

      Perfect! I have a deep voice for a woman and I often get calls back to "MR" because of it. Needless to say that answering machines and I don't get along too well ;)

    • Marc Babineau profile image

      Marc Babineau 5 years ago from Cornwall, Ontario, The Seaway City

      Finally, a funny post from our BC sweetie! Great job, Christy! Have you had a problem recently with your answering machine, or did you just get a new smartphone with call answer? Many times when I call certain people i actually hope for the answering machine and get flummoxed when they actually answer the danged phone!