Hello - Is it me you're looking for?
A True but crazy tale.
One of my business associates has a very strict policy of not letting telephone calls or email messages distract him from his to-do-list. He checks his emails less often than I wash my hair, and lets all his calls go to voicemail and then selects who he wishes to speak to and calls them back at his convenience.
Hence in the two years I have known him I've become well acquainted with his recorded answer phone message: "Hello, you've reached the voicemail of Joe Bloggs. I'm not available to take your call so please leave a message after the tone".
Yesterday I was under pressure to resolve a situation. The circumstances required me to contact him and seek his input. I called his number and was greeted with "Hello".......and then complete silence.
'Oh Shame' (or something along those lines), I thought. 'Now his darned answer machine is broken - I can't even leave a message'. And I hung up.
Yes, you've probably guessed that he had on this rarest of occasions decided to answer the phone. Clearly I was at fault for making assumptions and reaching the wrong conclusion. But it made me question how the way we reply, or even fail to respond to calls and emails influences how others judge our communication skills.
We're all busy people, but are we temporarily forgetting that human conversation (and electronic communication) requires people to respond to each other?