When Not to Leave a Voicemail

When Not to Leave a Voicemail

Taryn Williford
Feb 14, 2012

We live in a world with endless access to communication. Calling, texting, emailing, messaging and @-replies are all readily available thanks to your smartphone, so it's time we, as a society, learn how to use each channel wisely. Step one: Stop leaving voicemails, people.

To quote Gizmodo's Sam Biddle, "Voicemail made sense when our phones lived in the kitchen, not our pockets." But that was before email and texting. And Caller-ID.

Now, pretty much any cell phone that was made within the last decade has caller ID and text messaging capabilities, so even the people you know with the most dated mobile devices are able to see instantly that they missed your call and ring you back.

The sorts of messages that were perfect for voicemail in 1993 are now better suited to delivery via text. Leaving a message like, "Dinner's at 7:45, no need to call me back," isn't doing the recipient any favors. Checking a text is easy; pressing "1" on your phone and entering a mailbox password is a chore.

If you're still confused (or know a chronic voicemail abuser), here's a brief guide on modern voicemail etiquette. Thank us later.

When not to leave a voicemail:
• When all you're going to say is "Call me back."
• When all you're going to say is "I'm sending you an email."
• When what you're saying could be better communicated in a text, i.e. "I'm on my way to the bar now."
• When you need a quick response; a survey commissioned by Sprint found that people younger than 65 responded much faster to a text than a voicemail.

When to leave a voicemail:
• When you're calling a landline phone.
• When the person you're calling might not have your number saved in their contacts.
• When you're calling to say "Happy Birthday" or leave another personal message of congratulations—in this case, it's preferrable over an impersonal text.
• When you're calling to relay heavy news, like a death in the family. In that case, it's best to leave a message stating that you really need to talk to the person and that it's important.

(Images: How to... Fake a Phone Call, Carl Berkeley via Wikimedia Commons)

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