As I write this, it’s December 23. Yesterday I checked the messages on my seldom used office landline phone. I don’t use the phone. I don’t like the phone. I have a cell phone why do I need this phone? I had missed a message from a friend dated 12/9/14. Sorry Lorraine. I seldom check my landline messages, nor do I pay much attention to my cell phone voicemail. Messages are an annoyance. Email too. I’ve turned off Email notifications, and only check Email a couple of times a day, I’m not on social media all the time, and I don’t hear every text. The best way to contact me is to call my cell. If I don’t answer, I’ll call you back. People should know that. Or should they?

What’s Your Opinion?

This morning, on NPR (National Public Radio) I listened to a daughter who had complained about her parents leaving voicemails on her phone. She’d return a call to her mother, who would ask, “Did you get my message?” to which the daughter responded with disdain in her voice, “No….I called you.” She thought it was a waste of time…until her father unexpectedly passed away. She found several unheard deleted messages from him including one that simply said, “I hope you hear this because it’s important. I love you…” She has changed her opinion about voicemail.

It’s Confusing

On one hand, I want to limit distractions—that’s why I’ve turned off most pings. On the other hand, shouldn’t I be more considerate of others preferred methods of communication? Not only that, but I could miss an urgent message from friend or family or respond too slowly to take advantage of a business opportunity. When I’m on the other end of not receiving a response to a message, it’s frustrating. I assume the other person isn’t interested, doesn’t care, or is inconsiderate. But that’s not always the case is it?

What can You Do About it?

We all deal with multiple communications challenges every minute of the day and must understand there are going to be miscommunications, misinterpretations, and lost messages. The place to start is to be understanding and not assume the worst.

  • Inform others of your preferred method of communication.
  • Ask others their communication preference.
  • Politely follow up on unanswered correspondence. Consider using a different media.
  • Match the media to the message. How important is it? How complicated is the conversation? Should you meet face-to-face, Skype, phone, email or?
  • Keep generational preferences in mind.

And most of all be considerate, understanding, and patient. Not everyone will communicate as you do and when someone doesn’t reply it’s not always intentional or personal.

Sometimes it takes Being Hit over the Head

My mom and dad, and a couple of close friends, frequently leave messages on my cell phone. One of those friends passed away last week. He had just turned 64. This morning I retrieved several voicemails he had left on my phone. One was dated 12/24/13. He wished me a Merry Christmas. I didn’t play the message last year. I’ve changed my opinion on voicemail.

Modern multimedia communication should make it easier for people to connect, to stay in touch, but that’s not always the case. Today’s communication options can be a tremendous advantage. Remember when you had to find a pay phone to answer your beeper? Would you want to go back to a time before answering machines or when FAX was state of the state of the art in office communication? Communications technology has come a long way. People? Maybe not so much. Multiple media communication can be used to its advantage, or looked upon as a hindrance. Which will you choose?

Photo by Thor / CC BY-2.0