For college-aged students, texting is the norm, even replacing phone calls in some (read: most) situations.
But when you do actually use your phone to talk, what should you do when the person you called doesn’t answer the phone? Is it still required to leave a message after the beep?
Sam Biddle of the tech blog Gizmodo wrote an article that summed up his feelings about voice mails.
“The ubiquity of voicemail made sense when our phones lived in the kitchen, not our pockets,” he wrote.
Now that most people have cellphones with the capabilities of text messaging and email — and beyond — there are new rules for when to leave a voice mail and when to save those 35 seconds of your life.
When to send a follow-up text message
“I’d rather get almost any other type of message than voicemail — email, text, telegram, telex, cuneiform tablet. At least you can skim those,” said AJ Jacobs, editor at large at Esquire magazine, in Biddle’s Gizmodo article.
For those who are tech savvy, it is recommended to send a text message to follow up an unanswered call. For many college-aged students, checking voice mail is more of a nuisance than a convenience, and sometimes voice mails go unchecked unless after a call from an unknown number.
It is also suggested that the more important the message is, the more important it is to follow up with some kind of explanation of the missed call. For example, if an answer is needed immediately, sending a short text that speaks to the nature of the call is recommended. Simply texting, “Call me back” doesn’t answer many questions and is already implied — hence the missed call.
Stick to text messaging whenever the message would be better communicated in text rather than a conversation. Calling to say, “I am on my way” or confirming plans for the evening is not worth a conversation or a voice mail.
When to leave a voice mail
Have a laundry list of questions to ask and the person didn’t answer the call? Now is the time to leave a voice mail rather than sending a four-page text detailing what you wanted to say. In addition to that, sending a text message that says, “Check your voice mail” might also be necessary, especially if you know the person you are trying to reach rarely bothers to check his or her voice mail.
If you’re not 100% positive that the number you’re calling is a cellphone, always err on the side of caution and leave a voice mail rather than rely on text messaging. This is especially important when dealing with employers, professors or organizations.
Jeff Grizzle, senior coordinator at Oklahoma State Career Services, said that college students and recent college graduates make the mistake of calling a number one time and expecting an immediate call back without leaving a voice mail.
“Students think that the fact that I see a missed call on the office phone is going to immediately make me call them back,” Grizzle said. “That’s not the case. Many employers rarely call back missed calls unless they get a voice mail, too. They usually just assume it was a wrong number and don’t bother with it again.”
Even though many employers and professionals use company cellphones as well as their office phones, it is best to assume that the phone number on the business card is an office number, Grizzle said. Leave a detailed voice mail and return phone number at the end of the message.
In the same spectrum, it is best to leave a voice mail when the person you are calling might not have your number in their phone. Instead of calling, hanging up and expecting a call back, leaving a voice mail to explain who you are and what you need is necessary unless you don’t want a call back.
When it comes to parents and older relatives, phone calls and voice mails might still be preferred. Having a 15-minute conversation with parents will render the same results as a text message conversation that lasts a few hours.
Oklahoma State senior Tori Forrest said that she prefers to call her mother because it just makes their relationship easier.
“There will be times when I text her and give her short updates on my life and she wants me to send her every detail in a text,” Forrest said. “It’s just easier to call her because I can talk way faster than I can type. Plus she can hear my voice and won’t think that I’m being rude or short with her when I’m being sarcastic.”
In addition to these guidelines, don’t be afraid to ask what method of communication a person prefers. It will save you time, energy and frustration in the long run.
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