Modern Etiquette: Does voicemail make you nervous?

Sun Jul 27, 2014 7:06pm EDT
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By Mary M. Mitchell

(Reuters) - 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 cell phones as primary telephone numbers…at least for now.

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

Your own answering greeting should be short. Don’t bother to say that you aren’t available to take the call. That’s a waste of time, and there’s no point in restating the obvious. Instead, simply identify yourself and ask the caller to leave a message.

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.

When you leave a voicemail message, be sure to identify yourself right away. Give your return phone number at the beginning of your message so that other people don’t have to listen to you twice. Speak slowly and clearly. It helps to pretend to be writing your number in the air, which will slow you down and help with clarity. Say when you can be reached.

If there are specific messages, be concise, and let the person know at the beginning so she can be listening for the information. For example, “I’m calling to let you know two things.   Continued...

A bourse trader uses a cell phone during a trading session on the trading floor at Frankfurt's stock exchange August 2, 2011.   REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski