There are two kinds of phone users in the world: people who leave voicemails for other people and people who ignore voicemails from other people.
Two recent articles echoed the other side of a message I'm hearing from many adults/parents in my generation and older:
Once upon a time an older generation refused to leave a message for a machine because they thought it was rude and impersonal. People would leave messages saying, "I know you're screening my call" as if this was a bad thing.
Now we have an older generation that is befuddled with how texting has become the norm, how many they are trying to reach refuse to answer their phones or even listen to voicemail but instead will only respond to texting or email. We have teenagers who will sit in a room together and rather than talk to each other will text.
So are the tides shifting? Has the form of communication become texting as the primary means of casual connection? When is it appropriate and when is it not to leave a voicemail?
Are there some conversations that really ought to happen by real, actual, conversation? Like breaking up with someone as a for instance. Have we reached a stage where real conversation only happens in certain situations and much of life is governed 140 characters at a time?
Answer the questions, read the articles, and then let's hear your thoughts.
A few anecdotes to reveal my own thoughts:
1. I used to work for a boss who lived via voicemail. He was the President and Founding Partner of our firm and would leave multiple 5 minute long voicemail messages on our office voicemail system - a system which had no notification service so there was no way - if you were out of the office - to know he had left you a message unless you checked your voicemail frequently. He basically used voicemail like anyone else today uses email - to communicate important details and messages and dictate changes to projects and reports - and he would group send voicemails. It would drive me nuts because I had to carefully rewind and rewind until I had the full dictation of what he was trying to communicate. We often asked why he doesn't just email and his comment was generally, I'm calling you in the few minutes I have between activities and it's much more practical for me to just call and leave messages rather than trying to type something up on the small screen of a phone or crack open my laptop (something he rarely carried if he was traveling).
2. My younger brother (8 years younger) will in general never answer the phone if you call him - even if you know he's not engaged in anything at the time - and refuses to call back even if you leave him a message. But email him or text him and you'll very likely get a response back. And the only times I call him are when there is something important to share.
3. I have a coworker, who when I'm trying to connect with her on important details refuses to answer my calls and when I leave a voicemail or when she calls me back she'll say, "No, I didn't listen to my voicemail." So I've learned to only text her or send emails because she doesn't respond to the phone.
4. Don't call me on my office line. If you do, don't expect me to listen to or respond to the voicemail if you leave it. The only people who call me on the office line are sales people or recruiters. If I'm available I'll answer that phone for someone within the company but generally I am not. My mobile number is widely available to anyone in the company through Lync and our Exchange system. Call me on that and if I'm available I'll always answer - otherwise leave a message and I'll check it as soon as I can. Better yet, if it's critical, unless I'm not online, ping me on Lync or send me an email if it's not critical. Texting will always get my immediate attention unless I'm in the midst of a meeting and then it's just as likely to be seen as a voicemail - not until after I'm available.