Note to people that keep calling and hanging up before it goes to voice mail


Leave a message! Sometimes I don’t pick up the phone because I am in the middle of something, and sometimes I can still see your phone number on caller ID. And sometimes I notice that you keep calling and hanging up without leaving a message (over and over). And one of these times, I am going to pick up the phone and ask you why you keep calling without leaving a message.


Look, I get that you want to talk to a person and not a machine. But if I answered every call that came through, I would not be able to get my job done. So call screening is something I have to do sometimes. Nothing personal. I’m not more important than you. I just happen to be in a job where I get tons of phone calls.


But don’t keep calling back and hanging up. Your number may be listed, you may have already sent me something with your phone number on it. And when/if we speak, all I’m going to be thinking about is the fact that this is the person that called me seventeen times in a one-hour period.


This isn’t intended as a rant, just a recommendation to think about it before you pick up the phone and keep calling.

Comments (24)

  1. Vicki says:

    I agree – well put, Heather.

    Before voicemail, if the person REALLY wanted to talk to you, they would call back.

    Today, if I REALLY want to talk to the person (who left the voicemail), I will be the one to call back! 😉

  2. Pieterd says:

    Now I am really curious who made you want to write this post 😉

  3. Robert Kozak says:

    I couldn’t disagree more.

    In my personal philosophy if someone doesn’t leave a voicemail it is usually not important. I have messages that just say "Hey Robert its me, call me back." They are totally useless.

    Especially on my cell phone because it keeps a call log for me. I usually dont bother to listen to voice mails since I can just look up who called and when I get a chance I call them back.

    People that need to get a hold of me can call my cell phone, send me an email or IM me. Other than that, I find most phone calls are usually not important.

  4. gabriel.lozano says:

    I don’t like talking to machines so whatever you like I would still hang up on the voice mail I guess you can’t force people to use the voicemail feature.

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    OK, but can we all agree that you shouldn’t continue to call the person every 3 minutes? I agree with Robert and Gabriel in that I am more of an e-mail person than a phone person, and many of the voicemails I get are solicitations or someone telling me they are going to send, or have sent, their resume (which isn’t really necessary….send it on over). If I get a voicemail and an e-mail from a person, I’m going to respond to the latter (it’s quicker and I can do it when it works for my schedule). I get plenty of pointless e-mails too (I’m not referring to ones with resumes of course), but the voicemails stick out in my mind, mostly because with e-mails you can just scan and delete and with voicemails, you sometimes can’t tell it’s not important until you listen to the whole thing (as if there’s some little gem of info at the end that you might need or they may tell you a bunch of stuff and say "not!" at the end). So I think the voicemails are more memorable in their lack of a point, but boy do I sure see lots of unnecessary mail.

    So I guess my point is leave a message or don’t, call me or e-mail me (though I prefer the e-mail), but don’t keep calling me without a message. I don’t really want a bunch of calls on my cellphone. I don’t need to be reached at all times. I find that it’s rare that people who feel they have an urgent need actually have one that I consider urgent. It almost always can wait until the next business day.

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh, and if I know the person well, they can do the "Hi, it’s so-and-so, call me back" thing, but if I don’t recognize the name and they don’t take the time to tell me what the call is about so I can tell if I am intersted, then they don’t get the call back. I get the "it’s really important that we speak" calls regularly enough to know that it’s probably really important to them (they have a sales goal, their boss told them they have to get in touch with me, they have some waterfront property…I don’t know), but not to me.

  7. Kit says:

    I get many calls from Researchers and telemarketer even though I have my number listed on the donot call registry and it is also an unlisted #.

    I myself scan calls too and if they do not want to leave a vvoicemail then I just assume it is not important.

    I think that people do not leave a message at times because they feel rejected if the person do not call back. I think that is more on personal relationship.

    In regards to telemarketer then those people are just a pain.

    If I called someone and it was important then I leave a message. It is areally not big deal. I also changed my phone number several times though because of people who just have too much time on their hand who calls constantly too.

    I ccan just imagine what recruiters go through. Sometimes there are people who just does not understand patient and also take a hint when they should just give up.

    I feel for you Heather.

  8. Wine-Oh says:

    I subscribe to the school of thought that if its important they will leave a message. If its personal and important, they will try your cell #, ping you, or e mail you, (or if you are my dad, call the receptionist and have me paged)

    As a rule, I do not put my cell # on my signature file or my business cards. I dont want to be found all the time. Heck I have even seen IM names printed on business cards. Thats pushing it.

  9. drea says:

    I’m with you Heather. Here’s my take on it. If someone is calling and wants to talk to you – they have 2 options – leave a message or call back later.

    If they’re calling back every 3 minutes (or some other crazy multiple call scenario), it’s probably about something they think is urgent. What they’re missing is this – the most effective way of reaching you urgently. If you’re actually in nonstop meetings, working on a project that requires your attention, or away from your desk – leaving a message is a way more effective way of reaching you. You can check the message when you’re available and be able to priortize a return call or some other action. If they’re not leaving a message you have no way of determining what the frantic calling is about and you can’t prioritize it and the constant calls are then frustrating and ineffective. And if it is urgent and you’re not at your desk to take calls, and they don’t leave a message, then their chances of reaching you by calling constantly are pretty slim. If it’s not urgent, then why not leave a message or drop an email and just say so.

    On the other hand, if someone just wants to connect with you personally and talk about something that isn’t urgent, it’d be best to leave a message and ask to schedule a convenient time to talk. And on that note, even if you DO answer the phone, it’s good to check in and ask if its a convenient time to talk.

  10. Vicki says:

    You got it on the nose, Wine oh!

    And, Heather – how about turning the ringer off when you’re in a serious state of (work) flow? Then the ringing won’t annoy! :)

    Has anyone ever had collect calls from an inmate?? Oh, yes… this seems to be a new trend in telemarketing! I had several calls, back-to-back this weekend from a distant county jail… I don’t KNOW anyone on that side of the law (at least not in this state ;)…) so I’m thinking this is something freakish… but then, I see that there is actually a company that places your name on a list that is like a "Inmate Do-Not-Call Registry"  — what the ???

    So, Heather… my question is: Can you be sure it’s not someone at the King County Jail calling for you?! :)

  11. HeatherLeigh says:

    Everyone is making good points. Kti, they may be taking it personally or they may evern realize that their urgency isn’t yours so they have to get you live to satisfy their interests because it will be hard for you to gracefully get off the phone.

    drea- yeah, the best way to reach me is via e-mail, especially when I am busy. And I get all of my work voicemails through my e-mail account (in windows media files). I even tell my family that the best way to reach me, if they need to get me is via work e-mail/voicemail because I will check it while I am not good about checking my home machine (oh yeah. I’m low tech in that department, there’s actually a machine…it’s in the guest bedroom…I hardly ever check it since there are so many other ways to reach me).

    As for the cell phone, coverage in my area had been spotty in the past but it seems better now. My neighbor, who seems to know all about the important happenings in the community, says they were improving coverage by building a cell tower nearby. Even so, Ican’t say that cell is the best way to reach me (I check that less frequently than the home phone unless I am expecting something).

    Vicki-well, you answered a question I had. There was a vm on my home phone that sounded like it originated from King County Jail. That’s a pretty deplorable direct marketing tactic, but I think that is exactly what it is. A small handful of people have my home phone number (and would actually use it…pretty much reserved for family), so I was very curious when I heard that on my answering machine. Hopefully if it’s just a telemarketing company, the inmate donot call registry does not apply. I’ll tell you that if it was someone at the KC Jail, they were wasting their quarters. Actually, I figured out who was calling over and over.

  12. Wine-Oh says:

    Vicki, yes I have had that happened. One night I got 4 collect calls from Rikers Island (a not so fun jail in NYC), and each one after I declined to accept the charges the recorded name was replaced with profanity, and it intensified with each one…After the 3rd time I let it go to my voicemail.

  13. HeatherLeigh says:

    See, it’s GOOD to screen calls!

  14. Vicki says:

    Wine-Oh… is there a “for fun” jail in NYC?!
    ROTFLMAO!!!
    (Hey, thanks for letting me know that I wasn’t the only one who had this unique issue…!) :-)

  15. Wine-Oh says:

    LOL Vicki. Good point. What jail is fun? Not that I have been. Closest I came was visiting Alcatraz and that was enough for me. I guess I was trying to be funny and that should have read somethting like “one of the scariest places on earth…”

  16. Jim S says:

    I would just try to deal with it. Only pay attention to the callers that leave messages.

  17. HeatherLeigh says:

    Great, I’ll give the caller your number so you can see how fun dealing with a constantly ringing phone is. : )

  18. Nick says:

    Since I get so many phone calls, all of my calls go to voice mail as part of my screening process.

  19. Sarah says:

    Really? That’s a MARKETING strategy? The prison thing? That happened to me in Austin. Five or six calls in one night and all of them had progressively bad language until I just stopped answering the phone ’cause I was literally confused.

  20. HeatherLeigh says:

    Sarah-were you wondering which of your friends were having a bad night? :)

  21. Concerned? says:

    Someone keeps telephone me saying they are a Microsoft employee. I thought MS didn't cold call, and I never gave them my number either. So who is that rings?

  22. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hi Concerned?

    Most big/good companies do cold-calling. If they don't, especially in this economy, their recruiters aren't very good. I always like cold-calls myself. Keeps me up to date on what is going on out there and it's good networking.

    Maybe you could do an internet search with your phone number as the key word to see where recruiters could be getting your phone number. I assume it is somewhere that gives them a sense of your background. If you ever doubt a recruiter, ask them to send you the job description and check to make sure it's coming from the microsoft.com domain. If it's an agency, ask them if they are contingent or retained, and if they are contingent, ask if they have an exclusive on the opening. If so, or if they are retained, it's a better bet. Sometimes agencies call prospects even if they haven't been engaged by MSFT to do so. I would stay far, far away form any company doing that.

    Let me know if you have questions on that. I have worked on the agency side (long ago) and can possibly provide more insight.

  23. Concerned? says:

    Thanks for your quick reply. I am ex-directory, so they shouldn't have my number, but I suppose it's not difficult to guess if these companies find out what the numbers start with and just keep moving up adding one on until they get replies. They say my name too, or at least what they think my name is. How can they know this?

  24. HeatherLeigh says:

    Maybe you were referred to them by someone. Or maybe they are getting your info from someplace you are both members of that displays your phone number.