DYDT: Do You Always Pick Up the Phone?
A few weeks ago, I asked a question about phone call lateness which raised a tangential question: do you always pick up the phone when it rings?
I’m always a bit surprised when someone answers the phone to tell me that they can’t talk. Why didn’t they just allow voice mail to pick up? Then we would have effectively accomplished the same thing: you would know I want to talk, I would know you can’t talk at the moment, you would call me back. I don’t take it personally if I call someone, knowing they’re home, and they don’t pick up. I just assume that they are busy inside the house. Not everyone sits around, drumming their fingers on the table, waiting for me to call.
Plus, if it goes to voice mail, I can say what I needed to say. If they pick up and say they can’t talk, I now need to go write down the question I was going to ask them so I still remember it when they call back.
This is obviously different from screening out phone solicitors. I mean, I don’t pick up for phone solicitors at all, even if I’m not busy. (I apologize, phone solicitors, but I will never buy something over the phone so it feels like a waste of your time too if I pick up.) I don’t screen anyone else’s call though. I pick up for everyone who isn’t a phone solicitor if I can talk. So if I’m not picking up, it means that I can’t talk or I’m not home.
But some of the answers on that phone lateness post (and whether you turn your cell phone off at night) made me wonder if I was being rude by not picking up. Was it better to pick up the phone and explain that I really don’t have time to speak? Would people respect that and allow me to get off the phone immediately, or would they argue with me that the thing they had to say would only take a second? There are times when I’m cooking when even a second is a second too long.
So, am I the only one? Do you answer the phone when you can’t speak to tell the person you can’t speak, or do you allow it to go to voice mail/the answering machine and then call them back later? Do you take it personally when you know someone is home and not answering?