Saturday, September 25, 2010

Voice Mail - Part 2

Years ago, once you accepted that voice mail was here to stay and stopped being frustrated by being shunted away, the game switched from being ready to resolve an issue to one of being prepared to utilize the irritating technology to your own advantage.

Early on, the first people who employed answering machines and voice mail would often be near the phone, listening in and deciding whether they wanted to talk to you or not. Sometime later, they simply ignored the incoming calls altogether and periodically played all their messages back at once, dealing with those needing attention according to their own priority list. It was a reasonably efficient way of preserving one’s own time but was disrespectful of the caller’s time and effort—not really a good way to run a business.

Once that practice became evident, you shifted from being prepared to resolve anything with the person you were calling to simply telling that person (on their voice mail) what you intended to do and advising them to contact you if they had any problems with your intentions. Once you dropped that on their voice mail, you went about your business in the manner that suited yourself. Even if they called back to object, you could tell them they were too late to have a say in the matter…if only they had been available to take your call. It was no longer frustrating…it was liberating. If there were any potential legal or organizational pitfalls, then you wrote a quick memorandum of understanding setting forth your version of the matter and sent it out to confirm that you had left the message. That set in place the only written trace of what had transpired and it had the beauty of being entirely your own point of view.

Taking that thought a little further, if after you had dumped the plan on your reticent target's voice mail, you wanted to better ensure that he or she would have to submit to your wishes, then you shut off your phone and voice mail, thus foiling any possible retort. What a game.

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