It’s time for my long-promised follow-up to “Why You Should Return Calls”.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Too many times in a business environment, and in personal life as well, someone will leave the emptiest message: “Give me a call when you have time” or “call me back”. This type of message puts the burden of THEIR communication on YOU! They OBVIOUSLY have something on their mind, but feel that YOU need to fish for it, and dig it out of them.
This is closely related to a previous post “OMG! I Just Can’t Believe It!”.
You calling someone back to find out what they want is an INSANE waste of your time, and theirs. They’re going to tell you what’s going on anyway, why not in the message that they leave? They are forcing the conversation to be Full-Duplex vs. Half-Duplex, with the added bonus of wasting your time and theirs, with the first empty message. Now, I get it if the communication is confidential, I’ll make THAT exception, however… Most communications are NOT confidential.
FORCING FULL-DUPLEX COMMUNICATION VS. HALF-DUPLEX MESSAGES
Unless it’s CRITICAL, Full-Duplex communication about work items can be a real time waster. I’m not talking about your daily morning meeting with your boss to discuss the items that are your bread and butter, or even social bonding with coworkers.
LEAVING A DETAILED MESSAGE
Detailed messages give the opportunity (time) to work on problems and do homework on the particular issue and the things that are important to your business! I suspect that this may also be why text messages and emails can be effective in certain ways. NO ONE EVER sent a text or email with the body of the message saying “Write me back so I can tell you what I want to say”. Wouldn’t that be ridiculous?
As I’ve stated before, unless the caller is delusional, no one expects you to always be sitting at your desk, or walking around with your cellphone in your hand, waiting for their call. So when it’s your turn to leave a message, make it count. Many people have claimed that they don’t like talking to a machine, (my mother for one). I can understand this, but not leaving a message beyond “call me back” is wholly ineffective.
SOMEONE WANTS TO TALK TO YOU, BUT WON’T SAY WHY.
The only message that is received from an empty message is that someone only wants to talk to a human being. If it’s your boss, you’ll be sitting on pins and needles trying to think of “What’s wrong?”, or “Did I screw something up?”.
THIS SPACE IS BLANK
There’s no opportunity to work on anything important with empty messages. I suppose the particular function of an empty message is the same as the “Your message here!” that’s sometimes seen on the sides of public transit buses and billboards. I always ignore empty messages, and you should too. If your boss leaves one and the issue is really important, he or she will either leave a better message, or request your physical presence. In general terms, 99.9% of the time (or more), what he or she wanted is trivial, or at least way less important than most of what you’re already doing. If it’s a REALLY critical issue, (Administrative, Technical or HR related), then the message should be “Please call me back, it’s CRITICAL!”
YOUR OUTGOING VOICE-MAIL MESSAGE
On you’re outgoing voice-mail message, state clearly that the caller should leave a detailed message. When calling someone else’s phone, and getting his or her voice-mail, you leave a detailed message (whether the outgoing message said to or not). This is being proactive, professional, and leveraging the technology available to your (and the company’s) benefit.
If you have any commentary, please leave it and we’ll discuss!
Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates
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