Is voicemail really useful? Should we call or text? Voice messages yes or no? Inc.com shares an expert’s review.
Since the advent of smartphones, different generations have debated the best way to use them.
Boomers don’t know why their kids aren’t listening to voice mail. Gen Z clearly finds Millennials’ use of emojis and capital letters creepy. Voice messages elicit strong opinions both ways. Although research shows that no one likes a person listening to music on their cell phone in public, there seems to be no consensus when it comes to interrupting a business meeting or family dinner to answer a call.
In the workplace, employees violate each other’s unwritten rules of communication, causing confusion, irritation, and resentment. As managers already know, cell phones and generational differences equate to miscommunication and lack of trust, which hurts productivity.
Rules of etiquette for everyone
The Washington Post recently made a valiant attempt at mediation, hiring writer Heather Kelly to speak with etiquette experts and everyday cell phone users of all generations to find some basic principles everyone can agree on.
Kelly points out that the rules “vary depending on the relationship, age, and context of the call. The closer you are to someone, the less rules apply.” But he offers some guidelines that generally apply in professional and personal situations.
Do not leave a voicemail message. Kelly agrees with young people on this point: “If this information needs to be communicated in an accurate and timely way, it is better to write it down like a text or email.” Although it does allow exceptions for calls where audio is necessary, such as singing “Happy Birthday” to a friend.
Send a text message before calling. Kelly is also part of the group of mobile phone users (generally young) who think sudden calling is rude. Unless it’s a parent or best friend of 20 years, it’s best to message them first and ask in advance when they’ll be available to talk.
If it’s an emotional topic, call. While many of Kelly’s rules seem pro-writing, he also believes that some things should be taken more personally. “Any topic that involves nuance, such as opinions or emotional issues, is best done via communication, including discussions, updates or the like,” he insists. Please do not argue – or end any type of relationship, whether personal or professional – via text message.
Don’t call again. If you call and they don’t answer, don’t call again. Send a text or email with whatever you have to say. Obviously, any emergency, health for example, is the exception.
Be careful with video calls. Does that person sitting at the coffee table next to you want to be photographed eating a croissant? Probably not. Does your team only want to see your forehead as you work during your Zoom meeting? Maybe not.
Don’t talk loudly in public places. If you’re at work or in a public place, use headphones so people don’t have to hear your conversation, and avoid talking loudly about your quarterly sales data or your new accomplishment.
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