Instant Voice

I am the type of person that prefers email communication.  It’s quick, it’s easy to recall at need, and it takes advantage of my skills as a writer.  In some cases, it may be faster to arrange a meeting or set up travel plans over the phone, but I still consider email the best means of long-distance correspondence.  But perhaps my judgment is just skewed.

In the realm of the business world, my judgment is definitely a little off – email has led me to expect near instant contact.  I expect that once someone reads an email, they will turn around and shoot one back to me, and generally that happens.  I also expect that if I do call, and am forced to leave a voicemail, someone will be back to me shortly.  When an hour or more goes by, I start counting minutes.

Take my current scheduling situation.  I left a voicemail at 8;47 am, which may be early for some offices.  So what time can I expect a return phone call?  Will the recipient of the voicemail arrive at 9 am?  10?  How long does it take to listen to messages?  Does it happen on arrival, or does email get opened and breakfast get eaten first?  Do people even notice anymore if they have new voicemails?  Is the voice mail recipient out all day?  All week?  How do I know?  At what point does it become permissible to call back?  How soon is a call back just really annoying?  Should I be worried that I worry about this stuff?

As usual, the morning has allowed me to dig myself into a questioning morass of self-doubt.  Hooray!

1 Comment

  1. jaggednoodles said,

    April 4, 2009 at 1:09 am

    It’s nice to get instant responses, but working in a nonprofit, I get over a hundred emails a day, not counting the spam. Most of my day is spent managing emails and returning phone calls. Actually, we have Vonage at the office, so the voicemails get converted into emails with a wav file attached, so those are basically like emails! It would be impossible to answer all emails instantly, especially when some emails relate to or depend on others. And before Vonage, I didn’t check voicemails regularly, since it was too bothersome to call, then type in the PIN, then go through all those options. In general, though, unless your call/email is urgent, a reasonable time to wait for a response is 3 days. After that, it is good, I think, to follow up. If your emails don’t have concrete deadlines, such as “please get back to me by next Thursday”, then probably a week is acceptable for phones and 2 weeks for emails. That’s just me, though.

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