A case for voice mail

Do you use your office phone and voice mail?

Dan Kedmey of Time Magazine recently listed 4 reasons we should never leave another voicemail.  I agree in part with Kedmey that the role of voice mail and the office phone is decreasing. I see it at work too, as some co-workers opt to have no desk phone, or simply forward their desk phone to their cell phone.  As studies show, more of us prefer to send an electronic message rather than leaving a voice mail. Think about how many times recently you’ve called someone and when they don’t answer you hang-up rather than leave a voice mail.

But wait…..

We shouldn’t be so quick to abandon the office phone and voice mail.

Here’s why:

  1. Bad habits on email and instant messaging don’t justify getting rid of your office phone. I’m talking about the times when people want to have a full blown conversation through email (multiple messages back-and-forth). I’m talking about when an instant message goes on for minutes when the conversation could be resolved in seconds by just picking up the phone and calling. Unfortunately this type of behavior is becoming more common in the office. Electronic messaging is not always the most efficient.
  2. There are legitimate times to use electronic messaging to create a written record of correspondence. But conflict resolution and getting to answers quicker in problem solving are better for face-to-face or phone conversations.
  3. I use my office phone as a screener much like I use a second email for online sign-ups. I give my cell phone number to people I know and trust. Incoming calls on the office phone are mostly solicitations and screened as such by rolling them to voice mail.
  4. Voice mail is way to insert tone and meaning into your messages for others. Electronic messaging is often misunderstood and misinterpreted because the receiver doesn’t hear the tone of the speaker’s voice. If it’s really important, try a voice mail.
  5. Voice mail is still used on cell phones and there are tools to transcribe that voice mail into an electronic message. This is a convenience for the receiver to filter out solicitations.
  6. Voice mail is more personal. It’s like receiving a hand written note.


If you want to stand-out and send a much more personal message then leave a voice mail.

Reach out and touch someone is still effective today. Maybe the office phone and voice mails are no longer the primary communication tool for us. But they do have a place.

To me, a voice mail from a colleague shows a personal touch to message delivery. They are leaving their voice for me to hear. No, it’s not the best choice of messaging medium for all situations. It doesn’t scale well. The recipient can’t scan it. So I choose to keep voice mail for specific uses. Sometimes, you just need to be heard.  🙂