Voice Mail, Email, Leave a Message... What's the Point?
"Email, instant messaging, and cell phones give us fabulous communication ability, but because we live and work in our own little worlds, that communication is totally disorganized."
Marilyn vos Savant
All this technology and still we don't communicate effectively...
How many voicemail messages do you leave in a day's time? That many, huh? Okay, now - how many of them actually RETURN your call??
Uh huh. That's what I thought. Not that many, right? Actually, I'm kind of relieved to hear that - I thought it might just be ME!
But now that we know its NOT US, maybe you can help me figure out exactly WHY people don't feel the need to return calls?....or answer emails?.....or send a text instead of calling?..... WHY, for crying out loud, with ALL this technology are we STILL less connected and communicate less than ever before??
Lets examine voice mail first. I hate it. Okay, thats kinda strong - lets say I "detest" it greatly! No.... I REALLY hate it! Here's why:
I call a client. Of course I get their voice mail. Which begs me to ask, does ANYONE EVER answer their phone on the first ring anymore, or is it akin to being the last one to show up at a party or something - you know - being "fashionably late"? (Frankly, I think anyone who is late is just rude or irresponsible - nothing "fashionable" about it to me!) Same with voice mail - if you are genuinely busy and can't get to your phone, I understand - really, I do. But if EVERY time I call you, it goes straight to your voice mail, I'm going to start looking for your obituary in the paper because I swear NOBODY can be THAT busy!
So, back to the voice mail. It goes something like this:
"Hi! You've reached "Your Highness So-and-So". I'm much too busy to be annoyed with answering my phone (translated - I'm too busy playing games on it) so leave me a short message and I might call you back later if I really want to talk to you or you have some juicy gossip to share! Otherwise, you probably just wasted your time - and mine. Have a great day!"
Okay, so maybe its not EXACTLY like that, but it may as well be because "her highness" NEVER calls back. Doesn't matter WHAT my message was, she just NEVER CALLS BACK!"
And this doesn't just happen once or twice - it happens ALL THE TIME! People just don't like or are too lazy to return calls, UNLESS....
1. Its an emergency - in which case you have to STATE that its a REAL emergency (in which case you should be calling 911 first) AND you have to include some sort of believable utterance of grief or distress - i.e., sobbing uncontrollably, yelling wildly or talking out of your head. Anything else could be misconstrued as being intoxicated or having the wrong number!
2. You owe someone money - in this case, you're probably NOT the one doing the calling because the one you owe is probably calling and leaving threatening messages on YOUR voice mail!
3. You know something they want to know - in other words, you have some GOSSIP to relay to them - and not just ANY gossip - but hard core, "you-won't-believe-what-so-and-so did, said, etc. . about YOU" kind of gossip. Anything less than that and the conversation will probably be shorter than Kim Kardashian's marriage!
Yes, I hate voice mail. And I've tried leaving all kinds of messages, from the short and sweet -
"Hey, its Lisa - call me back ASAP"
"Hi, this is Lisa - I've got something really important to discuss with you and would greatly appreciate it if you could take time out of your self-absorbed, shallow, all-about-you world and patronize me with a teensy weensy call back."
Still, I get nothing. And when I finally DO get in touch with them and inquire as to why they didn't call me back, this is just one of the many responses I may hear:
"Oh really? There must be something wrong with my phone - I've been missing calls alot lately!"
or, how about this one....
"Oh, I probably had my phone turned off - I just get tired of answering it all day!"
WTH????? Really?? Then WHY in God's name do you have a phone, or voice mail, for that matter?? I swear, I think people have forgotten what the purpose of all this technology is for - TO COMMUNICATE!! Its not to play the latest Facebook game, or track your kids via the built-in GPS or even for taking pictures with the crappy little 3.2 mega-pixel camera that comes with it. (and if you need an 8 MP camera on your cell phone, you need to get a job at the Sears Portrait Studio taking pictures - not wasting time taking them on your cell phone!)
IT'S A TELEPHONE, PEOPLE - IT'S MADE FOR MAKING AND RETURNING CALLS!!!
Listen, I'm in the sales industry. Communication is KEY in my business. If I call you, that means I want to TALK to you - not leave a message. And if I DO leave a message, I don't do it just to hear my own sweet, sexy voice! I do it so you will RETURN MY CALL. And if you don't WANT to talk to me, at least have the decency to email or text me back and tell me so!
If your cell phone can do everything including walking your dog, thats great, but in the words of Shania Twain, "that don't impress me much." If you really want to impress me, ANSWER your dang phone when I call, or at least RETURN my call when I leave a message! Better yet, read the manual and learn how to set UP your voice mail or EMPTY it when its full!
And that brings me to texting. I'm not really a fan of it, either. Now while I can type a respectable 65 wpm accurately, (even faster when I'm in my "zone"), I can dial a number 100 times faster than I can text, especially when the keys on a cell phone are only about the size of a flea's head! Unfortunately, my fingers aren't exactly thin and slender like alot of women - as a matter of fact, they're a little on the "thick" side, so trying to type out even a little word like "hey", would probably come out looking like Egyptian hieroglyphics! And on a more serious note, the death toll of innocent people dying from someone texting and driving is way too high for me to even condone texting while sitting still, much less texting and moving around! Its just not that big a deal to endanger yours or someone else's life over!
I've never really understood the amazement with texting - I mean, outside doing it somewhere you're not SUPPOSED to be doing it anyway, what's the point? Hello?, you're TALKING to someone by sending them WORDS on their PHONE! Doesn't that kind of tell you something?
I mean, whats the difference between texting me to tell me to meet you for lunch at 12:00, or CALLING me and telling me to meet you for lunch at 12:00?? Either way, you're buying, right?-lol! Seriously, doesn't it take longer to text that than to hit my name (which you've got saved anyway) and CALL me? I know I will ANSWER a call quicker than I can text you back!
Okay, lets move on to email. I don't really HATE email. It's more of a love-hate relationship. See, I LOVE to send emails - I'm an email freak, as a matter of fact. I'd much rather email than talk on the phone OR text. (and texting is a whole different beast!) But emails are more, well, less invasive - kinder, and so much easier to relate to. I can send an email to ten different people and will probably get a response back from 75% -80% of them. People aren't as rude about not answering emails as they are about not returning voice mails. I guess its because there's no "voice contact" - you don't have to worry about your "tone", or talking to someone you really don't want to talk to right then. Emails are neutral and safe, and quick. You can reply to an email, hit the send button and be done with it. (Then you can get back to playing Cityville or whatever goofy game you were playing!)
However, there are some things I do HATE about emails:
1. Forwarded junk emails - okay, some of them are cute, or thought-provoking or even mind-blowing. But please don't send me those political, left wing, right wing, or send-this-to-ten-people-or-you'll-die-tomorrow, emails. I've probably already seen them at least a hundred times and after the first ten, they're more annoying than funny. Thank God for the delete button!
2. You Tube/other videos - this used to bother me more before I got DSL, but even with dizzying broad band speed, I still don't have time to download and watch every Elvis, Brittany Spears or West Virginia Clogging Miners video that I get. I dare say that out of the hundreds I get, there's only been a handful that I watched that I really enjoyed. You Tube especially has become an amateur "American Idol" video site that insults and undermines my entertainment intelligence. And I don't particularly like to watch either.
3. Out of the Office Response - Oh, do I hate to get one of these after I've sent an email to a client or business associate! While I understand that you want everyone to know you've gone on your cozy little cruise to the Caribbean, couldn't you just have your emails re-routed to someone else instead? I mean, whats the point if you're not going to be there to answer them anyway??
Now, don't get me wrong - I have absolutely NOTHING against technology -in fact, I welcome all the advances man has made in making my cell phone compatible with my notebook, my GPS and my microwave. (well, it could happen - think zapping your lunch from your cell phone while in a meeting!) No, my issue is with people who just "have to have" the latest and greatest in "communication technology", but yet either don't have the intelligence to learn how to use it, or either use it for everything BUT its intended purpose - to COMMUNICATE WITH OTHERS.
Communication - A Two Way Street
Finally, in all fairness to those who DO return my calls, I DO appreciate your acknowledging my attempts to contact you, even if you DON'T want my services or don't particularly feel like talking that day. And to those who are genuinely busy when I call and I have to leave a message for, I appreciate the way you promptly call me back - it shows real maturity, responsibility and respect.
And to those who send me God-inspiring photos or 1001 Useful Household Hints emails, keep 'em coming - I'd much rather know how to clean a toilet with a box of baking soda than watch Lady Gag Ga stand and sing in one!
And for those who understand that to me, typing out a conversation on a keyboard the size of a Kit Kat equates with the pain of having a tooth pulled, I appreciate your efforts to call me rather than text me, unless its just to ask a simple "yes-no" answerable question!
Lets try to keep the lines of communication open and flowing freely, and just remember, communication is a two-way street - make sure you're not always going just "one way"!