Call me, but don't leave a message

The other day I called a friend of mine only to be left with this message:

“Thanks for your call but do NOT leave a voicemail. You can e-mail or text me. No voicemail.”

Interesting. And, let’s face it, exactly how a lot of us feel. (There’s even a Facebook page devoted to this.)

I hatehatehate voicemails. In fact, I used to joke at work that whenever I’d see the red light on my phone indicating I had a voicemail, it would put me into a bad mood.

Maybe it’s because people tend to leave such useless voicemail messages. Like when people say, “Call me back,” but don’t tell you why or what they need. (I hate that.)

But it’s also because there are more efficient ways of communicating with people these days that don’t require me to listen to a long, drawn-out message that could have been more effectively communicated in a text or e-mail.

In fact, most of my friends now Facebook or Twitter me — much more effective than leaving voicemails.

And telecommunication companies are picking up on this trend, offering new services such as visual voicemail or an app that transcribes voicemail message into texts.

A survey done by Sprint found that people younger than 65 responded much faster to a text than a voicemail. Another tech design firm found that 30 percent of messages can linger for three or more days before being retrieved and — worse yet — about 20 percent of people check their voicemail box once a month. If that.

So I got curious: how many of you loathe voicemail messages and prefer texts, e-mails or some other form of communication? And why? What is it about voicemail that makes us cringe?

***

To read all of Cat’s blogs, visit www.nonstophonolulu.com/thedailydish. Follow Cat on Twitter @thedailydish or send her an e-mail at cat@nonstophonolulu.com.

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49 Responses to “Call me, but don't leave a message”

  1. Ron September 22, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    I prefer voicemail over email for one purpose. If the person can adequately describe to me what he/she needs in 30 seconds or less. It’s easy to get inundated with email. So if I see one or two voicemails, I’m more likely to pick that off, get it done, then pile into the emails.

    But, if the person leaves a “call me back” voicemail with no call back number, that only makes me work more — and I’m not happy with the call back.

    The one I respond best is at the other end of a radio. Most radios are half-duplex — meaning you can either talk or listen but not both at the same time which is different than a telephone. That means when you say something, you have to be concise and coherent. But, when you release the mike button, you get instantaneous feedback and results. Plus, when you’re driving, you don’t get wrapped up like with a cell phone conversation and wind up driving to a place wondering how you got there. Like the Sprint/Nextel commercial shows, it’s a better way of doing business.

  2. utellum September 22, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

    With visual voicemail, voicemails are not all bad. They act like a keepsake, of sorts.

  3. utellum September 22, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    With visual voicemail, voicemails are not all bad. They act as a keepsake, of sorts.

  4. Johngarcia September 22, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    Dude — I totally feel you on this. Actually, it’s runied my reputation, with some, in many ways and I’ll be the first to admit it.

    If someone calls, and I’m too busy to answer, many of my friends will keep calling, and calling, and leaving voice mails, and calling, and it’s freaking irritating.

    I’m on twitter 24/7 and super responsive. I’m on e-mail and pretty responsive most of the time (haha), I’m on facebook and get alerts on messages.

    Some may say it’s passive communication, things get lost in the mix and, I can agree with that in some instances, but if you REEEEAAAALLLYYY need to get a hold of me and I’m not answering (meetings, pulling weeds outside, running a business or, hell, planning my wedding) I’d much prefer an e-mail or a tweet or electronic communication EFFORT so I know what you need and I can give you a proper answer as quick as possible.

    Maybe this makes me a bad communicator? Don’t get me wrong, if you call, I usually call right back if I miss it, but sometimes, I just can’t get back via phone right away and a quick text or e-mail WORKS. Maybe I’m new age?

    If I missed one of your calls and haven’t gotten back to you right away, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to ignore you or not return your call, but please e-mail me, john@nonstophonolulu.com or send me a tweet @johngarcia and I’ll hook you up!

    Good one, Cat! *fanning I hate voicemail*

    • MaxMaxMax September 22, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

      @johngarcia I am so with you on the reputation end of things. I have had many comment to me how unreliable I have become at returning calls.

  5. Johngarcia September 22, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    By the way, I didnt think before posting that. Chee hoo!

  6. Andreas September 22, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

    Dinosaur here. I actually prioritize getting back to people who try to reach me through that device with the cord that gets all tangled. I think it takes a little more effort to call someone and be prepared to talk, even if it ends up just being a voicemail, and I feel like I should reward that effort by calling back right away. Not sure why, but I feel like e-mails or DMs on Twitter or Facebook can usually wait a little. In my mind, if people really need to get a hold of me right away, they’ll call.

    • Johngarcia September 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

      @Andreas Good points, Andreas. Don’t get me wrong, I respect a good old fashion phone call, and in most instances, that works best, but if I don’t answer, I appreciate a quick text or e-mail follow-up. Most times that’s all you need to get the job done. :)

    • MaxMaxMax September 22, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

      @johngarcia @Andreas I can appreciate your philosophy on the issue Andreas, and I think it’s admirable that you return calls and voicemails so promptly. But I think “logistically” in the 2010s, holding on to antiquated means of communication for philosophical reasons just doesn’t cut it. Efficiency is efficiency… and I believe having a text record of any correspondence is just too advantageous.

    • chant808 September 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

      @Andreas *gasp* Your phone has an actual cord attached to it? Who has one of those, anymore?

    • Ron September 22, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

      @Andreas I have one with a real rotary dial. And, with a mechanical, not electronic ringer. It’s in my “museum” as evidence of once universally prevalent American workmanship.

    • Johngarcia September 22, 2010 at 10:25 pm #

      @Ron @Andreas @chant808 hehe I don’t think Andreas actually has one with a cord… :) @ron I remember those rotary dial phones!

    • Andreas September 23, 2010 at 1:03 am #

      @johngarcia @MaxMaxMax @chant808 @Ron Great topic and great conversation! This thread itself highlights another benefit of text-based communication: Sustained group discussion.

      I agree with @MaxMaxMax that the advantages of having a digital record of the correspondence are phenomenal. There have been times when I talk to someone on the phone and I think to myself, “Man, I wish we were e-mailing each other instead, so I wouldn’t have to write all of this down later or else I might forget what we said.”

      Text is definitely the best way to go when the communication doesn’t need emotions. Like you said, John, a quick text or e-mail will suffice in most cases. If it’s a quick confirmation, text it. If it’s an apology, voice or face is better.

      About the cord thing, I was referring to my desk phone at work, which actually has a cord! It’s a Cisco IP phone and pretty high-tech but it still has a cord. Go figure.

    • MaxMaxMax September 23, 2010 at 1:19 am #

      @Andreas @johngarcia @chant808 @Ron For any of you who want the “cord” back with your cell phone, there’s this… it’s actually very cool!
      http://www.iphonesavior.com/2010/04/retro-iphone-dock-lets-you-make-calls-like-its-1937.html

    • Andreas September 23, 2010 at 2:06 am #

      @MaxMaxMax @johngarcia @chant808 @Ron That’s just phenomenal! Look how it works with the rotary-dial app. Beautiful. Is it Christmas yet?

    • ron September 23, 2010 at 7:54 pm #

      @MaxMaxMax Cool. Look like the day Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone. I like the old bakelite handsets. Absolutely solid, unlike today’s cheesy plastic handsets.

  7. MaxMaxMax September 22, 2010 at 3:43 pm #

    You are preaching to the choir Sister Catherine! Voicemail is soooooooo yesterday. On a professional level, I prefer e-mails first and foremost because it provides a text account of all communication–so any past directives can easily be retrieved and/or forwarded, etc. As for the need of getting a hold of me immediately, people have the best results if they call first, text second, e-mail third, and voice-mail LAST!!!

    I even have the visual voice-mail on the iPhone, and I still don’t check some messages for days… You’re not the only one.

    As for Facebook and Twitter, they rank below e-mail, but still above voice-mail. I still haven’t accepted either as a de facto standard yet as I feel they are a passing fad. Something tells me straight e-mail and texting has a shelf life.

    • MaxMaxMax September 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm #

      Oh, and I TOTALLY agree with you regarding people who leave the barest of messages like, “Rex, this is soandso, can you give me a call? Thanks!”

      I just think, “WHAT DO YOU WANT???”

      Gaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!

  8. chant808 September 22, 2010 at 4:47 pm #

    Yeah, I get annoyed when people call me and leave a message, especially if it’s someone I know. I’d much rather them text me, because let’s face it, I’m lazy, and it takes far less time to read a text than call voicemail. Also, it uses minutes. Text, email, Twitter or Facebook, please!

  9. edmorita September 22, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    I forward my voice mail to a service called Ribbit. It then transcribes the voice mail and sends it to me as a text message. You can also have it e-mail you the transcript.

  10. M September 22, 2010 at 7:30 pm #

    Hello Cat,
    Voice mail works for me. I don’t have an iphone or smart phone.

  11. Annoddah_Dave September 22, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

    CAT,
    I am voice kind of guy…blogging is as close to texting as it gets. My thumbs are too fat to use a qwerty board on a phone. I cannot believe how fast young folks can text on a phone…I have a hard enough time spitting words out!

  12. JMattHicks September 22, 2010 at 8:31 pm #

    I’ve never really given it much thought, but voicemail is a bit cumbersome and I you, I think I may start doing this. I’d much rather a text/e-mail, because like you said, I don’t want to hear anything like “call me back!” without knowing why! Ha ha great post.

  13. harrycovair September 22, 2010 at 8:31 pm #

    Gee Cat, I’m guilty of keeping voice mail unchecked for 2-3 days. I prefer VM over a tweet. I don’t subscribe to IM. I check email constantly throughout the day or night.

    Somebody posted a pic about a month ago about “I’m not antisocial. You can email, tweet, IM, VM, me…” Works well with your article.

  14. melissa808 September 22, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    I’m OK with voicemail, but it’s the urgency of the CALL that makes me cringe. Text is quick and not as intrusive. I almost prefer text over email!

  15. dbjack September 22, 2010 at 11:10 pm #

    Love text messages, e-mail is OK, and am finding video chats in QQ to be my preferred method of communication. Just don’t like to chat with someone I can’t see. After you really get to know someone it is OK but video chat is still better.

  16. NateGyotoku September 22, 2010 at 11:17 pm #

    In general I like communicating via email or txt. Only in more “urgent” situations (client problems, etc) do I call. Written communication is usually clear and concise compared to spoken communication.

  17. cat September 22, 2010 at 11:48 pm #

    WHEW! I’m not alone in this!

    You know, I feel — like @JohnGarcia — that this issue I have with voicemail might have hurt me in some ways. I have a friend, for example, who always calls and never e-mails or texts. (She’s not even on Facebook.) And when we do talk, the conversation lasts for hours. And I just don’t have that kind of time. So she gets upset when I can’t answer her phone call or don’t call her back right away. (I have to set aside some serious time to chat!) It’s not that I don’t want to converse with her… I just don’t have that kind of time for a phone call. In person? Great! I’m down for that! But not over the phone.

    • dbjack September 22, 2010 at 11:54 pm #

      @Cat @JohnGarcia For long conversations face to face is better. Especially if there is a lot of good food and beverage involved. I have talked on the phone for hours and don’t really mind… but prefer otherwise

  18. hawaii2000 September 22, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

    I LOVE my voicemail! Why? Because when someone leaves me a message, within a few minutes of their call I get an e-mail with their message accurately transcribed plus an mp3 of their message attached. So people who insist on contacting me by phone can leave me a voice message, just like in the olden days! So, go ahead, and leave me a message. I’ll get it in an e-mail on my android phone in a couple of minutes.

  19. hawaii2000 September 22, 2010 at 11:59 pm #

    The worst voice mail messages? “Yeah, call me. Bye.”

  20. chrisota September 23, 2010 at 12:21 am #

    Interesting. I see the good and bad.

    Good: You’ll have their message in a text so if there is important information, you can always refer back to it and you don’t feel obligated to respond right away. If you’re also in a meeting and can’t check your message, you can visually see it quickly.

    Bad: Not everyone (Nextel users) have text messaging plans. Yes, it is only $0.50 a text, but it is nice to be considerate of others. If I call them and get a voicemail, I leave a descriptive message no matter what. Why call in the first place if I’m just going to text?

    People have relied too much on texting and email for the fear of confrontation or not thinking their conversation through. I enjoyed the days of long conversations on the phone. All we do now is text each other long, drawn out messages while waiting for a response.

  21. Ray September 23, 2010 at 1:16 am #

    I have a land line and a cell phone. I usually don’t receive any calls unless I know for sure who is calling. I give out my land line number but to only a very few for my cell.

    Calls that come into my land line goes to my answering maching which is set to speaker so I can hear the messages that are being left if I am near the phone. Like some I may check my answering machine maybe once a week. I had my cell phone company turn off my text messaging because I have never used it. On my cell voice mail works for me. but I usually tell people the best way to contact me is via email.

    • cat September 23, 2010 at 4:41 am #

      @Ray A land line AND an answering machine! You are definitely keeping it real!

  22. Melissa_Kim September 23, 2010 at 1:31 am #

    I always thought it was interesting that as more and more communication tools open up, we actually have less face-to-face time with people. I think that’s sad! Do we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we can’t take time to truly make things personal with people by speaking to them, even leaving a voicemail (albeit there is a proper way to leave a voicemail). Besides, things get lost in translation when you’re just leaving a text or e-mail. I’ve never even used text for work-related business. Leaves too much open for interpretation.

    • MaxMaxMax September 23, 2010 at 5:50 am #

      @Melissa_Kim Before Facebook and especially e-mail, my family only saw each other once every few years (six siblings, 15 kids between them, 22 grandkids, etc.) But, since we started a Yahoo group in 2002, then migrated to Facebook, we all are much, much more in tune with each other. I think if you aren’t going to see someone face-to-face you not going to see someone face-to-face, regardless of whether there’s texting/e-mailing/FBing or not. However, those only enhance communication. Well, that’s how I see it.

  23. Eric September 23, 2010 at 1:56 am #

    For me, I least prefer text messages. This is because I have an old phone that is very cumbersome to use for texting back and forth with people… I know, I need to upgrade… E-mails are fine…. however, in work situations, there are certain topics that are better resolved in face-to-face discussions. Too often, I have seen where a vague, or somewhat confusing e-mail, leads to a long string of back and forth e-mails that could have been avoided through a quick face-to-face conversation. I am somewhat indifferent to VM.

  24. HImom808 September 23, 2010 at 5:41 am #

    I dislike VM too. Too many that are long-winded with unimportant info included, but garbled contact info.

    Google Voice makes it so all VM are sent as text, sent to your GV page, and available via VM if you really need it. I love it. Now a 2 second glance at text messages save me from listening to often pointless VM.

  25. MaxMaxMax September 23, 2010 at 5:54 am #

    While we’re on communication rants here, what is the deal with people having Caller ID block on their phones? Why do you care if someone else knows you’re calling or not? I’ve had friends who give me a hard time about not answering their calls… I tell them, “Take off your caller ID block so I know it’s you calling and I’ll answer!”

    Anyone else here have caller ID block? …and why? Just interested in knowing what advantage it offers.

  26. Supercw September 23, 2010 at 7:08 am #

    my voicemail actually says to send me an email. mainly because i need everything in writing. it takes the hassle out of accountability later on (day job stuff)

    i don’t know anyone outside of work that leaves voicemails anymore. unless they are drunk. in which case i forward them to maleko to play on the radio.
    cause that’s super funny.

  27. Patrick September 23, 2010 at 8:21 am #

    Nobody leaves me voicemails. Nobody likes me, everybody hates me,
    I think I’ll go eat worms!

  28. Patrick September 23, 2010 at 8:34 am #

    Nobody leaves me voicemails. Nobody likes me, everybody hates me,
    I think I’ll go eat worms!

    (and send txt mssgs cuz voicemail is sooooo 2004)

  29. sunshyne402 September 23, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    This is very situational and there’s always reason to rant or debate about voicemail, text, email & social media.

    With that, I don’t listen to the VM’s I know will be drawn out. In fact, some give me anxiety. No joke. And when I can check VM’s, I hate when people say “call me back” or something vague like that. Just for that, I may not call back.

    Sometimes between meetings, shooting and producing stories, etc…it’s just not realistic to answer the phone or check a VM…therefore increasing accessibility via email, social media, or text.

    Now on the other hand, not everyone is connected. And although email, text, fb, twitter etc tends to be convenient for us, that may not be the case for others.

    Secondly, some things are better summed up over an actual conversation. Like if written/typed correspondence gets confusing etc. So I agree with Ron, “I prefer voicemail over email for one purpose. If the person can adequately describe to me what he/she needs in 30 seconds or less. It’s easy to get inundated with email. So if I see one or two voicemails, I’m more likely to pick that off, get it done, then pile into the emails.”

    Time can be an issue too and with the added “conveniences” it enables putting us out of touch…ironically, since we’re always “connected”.

    • Nocturnal September 24, 2010 at 3:39 am #

      @sunshyne402 LOL @ the anxiety thing. I get that too. I also have a bad tendency to procrastinate and put off listening to voicemails.

    • Nocturnal September 24, 2010 at 5:46 am #

      @sunshyne402 LOL @ the anxiety thing. I get that too. I also have a bad tendency to procrastinate and put off listening to voicemails.

  30. docrock September 23, 2010 at 11:57 pm #

    I have a similar VM policy but on my out going I actually explain why. I say most people either babble or or call saying the have an emergency that is normally an over-reaction. If you force the problem children to type out an email with what they so desperately need your time for they will not take the time to type it out so they bother someone else or solve the issue themselves.

    The Vauge-a-bonds will stop leaving 3 syllable messages too.

    Lastly is cost a lot of air time to listen to BSVM’s.

    I originally got the idea from Tim Ferriss of 4 Hour Work Week Fame: http://bit.ly/4hrvm

    I love this book it has saved me a metric crap ton of wasted time.

  31. sunshyne402 September 25, 2010 at 6:13 am #

    This is very situational and there’s always reason to rant or debate about voicemail, text, email & social media.

    With that, I don’t listen to the VM’s I know will be drawn out. In fact, some give me anxiety. No joke. And when I can check VM’s, I hate when people say “call me back” or something vague like that. Just for that, I may not call back.

    Sometimes between meetings, shooting and producing stories, etc…it’s just not realistic to answer the phone or check a VM…therefore increasing accessibility via email, social media, or text.

    Now on the other hand, not everyone is connected. And although email, text, fb, twitter etc tends to be convenient for us, that may not be the case for others.

    Secondly, some things are better summed up over an actual conversation. Like if written/typed correspondence gets confusing etc. So I agree with Ron, “I prefer voicemail over email for one purpose. If the person can adequately describe to me what he/she needs in 30 seconds or less. It’s easy to get inundated with email. So if I see one or two voicemails, I’m more likely to pick that off, get it done, then pile into the emails.”

    Time can be an issue too and with the added “conveniences” it enables putting us out of touch…ironically, since we’re always “connected”.

  32. sunshyne402 September 25, 2010 at 6:16 am #

    This is very situational and there’s always reason to rant or debate about voicemail, text, email & social media.

    With that, I don’t listen to the VM’s I know will be drawn out. In fact, some give me anxiety. No joke. And when I can check VM’s, I hate when people say “call me back” or something vague like that. Just for that, I may not call back.

    Sometimes between meetings, shooting and producing stories, etc…it’s just not realistic to answer the phone or check a VM…therefore increasing accessibility via email, social media, or text.

    Now on the other hand, not everyone is connected. And although email, text, fb, twitter etc tends to be convenient for us, that may not be the case for others.

    Secondly, some things are better summed up over an actual conversation. Like if written/typed correspondence gets confusing etc. So I agree with Ron, “I prefer voicemail over email for one purpose. If the person can adequately describe to me what he/she needs in 30 seconds or less. It’s easy to get inundated with email. So if I see one or two voicemails, I’m more likely to pick that off, get it done, then pile into the emails.”

    Time can be an issue too and with the added “conveniences” it enables putting us out of touch…ironically, since we’re always “connected”.

  33. doc September 28, 2010 at 7:43 am #

    http://www.youmail.com
    Check it out if you want options (other than voicemail). Some of it is FREE (like personalizing your outgoing messages to people — like your mom, dad, sibling, significant other, etc. — on your call list). I really like this service.

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