Framing the Dialogue

Don’t Leave A Message After The Beep

I have the sort of job that takes me out of the office four or more days a week.  I actually get to to out and accomplish things (usually) and work with people who are also trying to accomplish things (usually).  It takes a great deal of coordination and running around, but I love it.  I really get the sense of accomplishment when a project gets built. 

It is a great feeling when I am involved with a project from its inception to its completion and have played a part in the success.  I don’t know many jobs that have that component.  I do not have that component with all of my duties, but I tend to spend my efforts toward those projects.  I fortunately have that freedom…to a degree.  I still have to do the mundane, bureaucratic stuff, but as long as I get that done, I have flexibility to venture out.

On the days that I am in the office, one of the first things that greet me is the flashing light on my phone.  I HATE the phone.  This feeling is not just a work thing, but I do hate it more at work.  The flashing light indicates that I have a message from someone.  I start very early and before most folks are typically at work so I cannot return calls that early which is a great excuse to avoid checking my messages.  I do everything in my power to avoid listening to my messages.

I think that the phone is a very inefficient way to communicate for my particular job.   A nice benefit of our corporate system is that I can check and retrieve e-emails from my home PC.  I generally do this either in the morning before I leave or in the evening after I get home.  Truth be told, I can do this with my phone, but have experienced problems trying to retrieve messages.  Since I do not like these messages, this is a convenient excuse for me.

My “away” phone message that I recorded practically begs folks to NOT leave a phone message and send me an e-mail.  I even pleadingly explain that I may not get to your phone message for months, but will check my e-mails diligently every day.  That, unfortunately, dissuade many people.  I often wonder if they even listen to my greeting.  My least favorite messages are:

  • Hey this is “your name here” give me a call, I have a question for you.
  • The very lengthy message that nearly uses all of the allotted time and then in order to finish within the time, they rattle off their return phone number so fast it is barely audible.
  • The message from a person who has gotten your number by mistake yet you still have to call them back knowing that they got your number by mistake and knowing that you will still have to listen to their story even though they got your number by mistake and you are just trying to connect them to the right person.  I have had these conversations last over 90 minutes.  That is draining.
  • The person who leaves several messages in a two to three day span asking me to call back even though my “away message” clearly states that I am out of the office for days.  I still have to listen to each message. 
  • See the above except that their question could have been answered by any other human being on Earth had they bothered to ask any other person on Earth.  I guess this is sort of a complement as they must sense my omniscience.
  • The person who has a question that I never really have much contact with yet does not leave their telephone number requiring me to spend countless minutes trying to get their number.
  • The salesperson who is trying to market to people that I work with.  Not marketing to me, but to my contacts which they would like me to compile for them.
  • Phone tag.  I make jokes about phone tag, but it is not fun.  If I get into a lengthy game, I will try to call folks when I can least expect them to be at their desk like 7:58 AM, 12:02 PM or 12:55 PM.

Ok my PC is warmed up and my PDA has synchronized my calendars and I am ready to “do” my e-mails…

My phone messages can wait.

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