Georgina Guedes

How would you like to be called?

2015-06-17 07:30

Georgina Guedes

In a world where we get to dictate to stores and marketers how they communicate with us (e-mail, SMS, post, not at all), some people have decided that they can make the same stipulations to their friends, family and colleagues.

By now we’ve all got used to the voicemail recording that says, essentially, “I don’t listen to my voicemail so don’t leave me a message.”

It always comes off as a little rude to me, but I appreciate the sentiment. It helps when the person I’m calling at least tries to explain: “I am often in meetings all day, so if you need a quick response, it’s better to use SMS.”

But either way, even though I don’t like it, it’s probably better than what I do, which is permit people to leave me a voice mail, and then never, ever listen to it.

You can’t get anything right

Of course, for every one of us that hates voicemail, there’s another person who loves it. I once had a client who used to get furious with me for calling and not leaving messages. In my mind, I was sparing her the pointless, fruitless runaround of receiving a message she was never going to listen to, and then having to pretend she had listened to it when she called me back.

She didn’t see it that way. So I learnt to leave her detailed messages.

But now, there are about eight different channels through which I can make contact with anyone: landline, cellphone, e-mail, text message, WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger and Facebook proper. Twitter could also be in there, but I generally don’t make arrangements or sort out professional matters on Twitter (it has happened though).

So I’ll often find that I know I received a message from someone, somewhere, but I have to sort through five different platforms to find the vital piece of information that I am after.

Which door is open?

With all this going on, I can understand that people feel overwhelmed and inundated by communications. I certainly sometimes do. But, at the same time, it’s not appropriate for people to treat an interaction on a lesser preferred platform as an intrusion.

I’ve always hated the people who are rude to callers because they are interrupting something important. The person on the other end has no idea about whether or not it’s a good time, and the person answering the phone is the one interrupting themselves.

But now, we place ourselves in the firing line if we happen to choose the wrong platform. I’ve had people tell me snippily that I should have mailed them, or that I should have called them, or that WhatsApp is the best way to get hold of them.

And if I somehow didn’t intuit this, it’s apparently my fault that I didn’t get a response.

I’ve even had clients insist that I phone rather than email (Who doesn’t like email? Freaks!), and then, when I phone, have asked me to send them an email, or they’ll forget.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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