The etiquette of returning a telephone call seems to be fading into quiet oblivion. Having to deal with a lot of tasks, one is undoubtedly getting into the trap of cognitive slow down. So, when we get a call from family or friends we do not attend. We do intend to get back though, but simply cannot. This leaves the other person to believe we are not interested in talking with them.
Exaggerated expectations of people to be conveniently available for a call has brought relationships to a dangerous fragility. So, it’s time to prioritise our call list. Before you enter a meeting room or start a busy day at work, make time to attend to your core team at home. Place warm family conversations at the start of your day. This investment will help you address several important issues, which, if left unattended, can eventually pack in many phone calls that you may be getting during the work day. During your lunch hour, insert a touch-base call or message with your family again. Set clarity on your day’s schedule; keep them informed about how they can reach out to you. Ambiguity always creates anxiety, ending in frantic calls.
Don’t ignore friends
Friendships too tend to bear the brunt of our busy work life. Space out messages or calls with your crucial peer circle over the week or a fortnight, as it fits your calendar. Avoid absconding from the friendship radar for too long. It may be considered rude not to answer a call, but it depends on the context. Whether it’s because you don’t want to be bothered, you’re driving, or some other reason, it is good to be honest with callers. If you can’t make a call, just tell them. You can send a text message or an auto responder to notify them that you will get back. Please do! If someone is hurt, they can carry that burden for years. An apology acknowledges the delays that resulted from not being able to take their call immediately. It helps to soothe their feelings.
Sometimes you may suspect that a person is simply calling because they enjoy having a conversation with you, but you are not able to take their call. In that case, inform them that you will call back later if not immediately. Nowadays, it can be difficult for many people to find a moment that is perfect for talking with a friend. However, you may be able to make the most of your phone conversations by encouraging calls at times that are ideal for you because friends do not know when you are busy or available to take their calls.
If a friend calls and you ignored because of something frivolous, they may feel hurt. If you do it all the time, they will question the value of the friendship. If you genuinely feel sorry about missed calls, give them a prompt response and a proper apology. Keep negative feelings to a minimum and while apologizing is good, don’t make your call about the apology. Move to the essential aspect of the call, which is finding out why someone called. Focus on the present.
Communication and conversations oxygenate, so create that time to keep your relationships alive. Let your friends and family know that you value and appreciate their calls.
(Chaudhary is a Chandigarh-based image and style consultant)
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