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Don't Play That Game - Ending Telephone Tag

Many recent studies have shown that despite the multitude of communications technologies now in every day use, it is actually becoming more difficult to get in touch. Anyone who has ever experienced the frustration of "telephone tag" will certainly find that easy to believe. When trying to publicize an event, contact the media or respond to a crisis, the difficulties of getting in touch with the right people may seem insurmountable. Here are a few practical steps which make communication easier:

Take a moment to ameliorate your attitude: if you are furious every time you reach a message it will show in your voice. Voice mail can be a useful tool if approached thoughtfully.

Give some thought to what you want to say in a message before you call. Don't get caught stumbling for words once the tone has sounded.

Make your message brief yet complete. Enunciate your name and number, followed by your reason for calling. This can be especially useful as it gives the message recipient notice of what to prepare when returning the call. A stranger's name and number is unlikely to motivate someone to call back. You may wish to give some time parameters - "Please call me before 5pm Tuesday. I will try you again Wednesday at 9:30 am." You are providing information on the urgency of your request and also letting them know that you will try them until you get in touch. Conclude your message by restating your name and phone number.

If you leave a call-back time, make sure you are in the office. Consider giving a more precise time (rather than simply "during business hours") and avoid a frustrating day of back and forth messages.

Think about some alternatives when you cannot reach an individual. Is there someone else in the organization who could fulfill your needs? Perhaps a receptionist or executive assistant can tell you when the person is most likely to be available. Seek out different communication vehicles -- a telephone hater may be contacted via E-mail, fax or (gasp!) mail.


See also:
Answering Machine Tips
Your virtual storefront: Your telephone