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Does voicemail make you nervous?

Does leaving a voicemail message create performance anxiety for you? If it does, you probably are a millennial. There's good news and bad news about this. The good news is that you are early in your career, with lots of opportunities to make a positive difference in your world.

The bad news is that, if you are a millennial, you cannot afford to regard leaving voicemail messages as obsolete. There are four generations actively participating in the workplace. This is unprecedented. It means that, while Baby Boomers are learning to text, millennials also must become adept at using voicemail.

Landlines continue to have a place in business and are in fact more prevalent than cellphones as primary telephone numbers -at least for now.

It behooves all of us to consider a refresher on voicemail etiquette. Here goes:

If you really mean it, say you will return the call as soon as possible. For example, “This is Mary Mitchell. Please leave a message and I will call you back as soon as I can.” If you want to give another option to reach you, go ahead, but limit it only to one telephone number or email address.

Never use voicemail as a way to avoid speaking with someone. It doesn't help, and a person would have to be terminally dense not to figure out your game. If you must call when you know the other person isn't available, say, “I know you won't be able to take the call now, but I wanted to let you know that...”

Remember that we can hear a smile in another person's voice, just as we can discern whether that individual is completely present and focused. Smart phones have the ability to record. Smart people take advantage of this tool and record themselves before leaving a message. And yes, it takes time. Precious time.

Yet what do winning sports teams do that most individuals do not? They practice. Think about it. The few seconds we invest in practicing our message can create or nurture a positive relationship. That's a personal win for the caller. On the other hand, a messy message can cost us a valued relationship.

Why bother, you might ask? Good manners create good relationships. Good relationships create successful careers. It's not the other way around. - Reuters

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