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juther's avatar

Is it rude to respond to voicemail with an email?

Asked by juther (9points) January 5th, 2009

If I have a voicemail from someone that explains why they are calling and asks me to call them back should I pick up the phone or is it okay to respond with an email?

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8 Answers

dynamicduo's avatar

If they explicitly ask you to call them back, I would call them back. If they don’t explicitly mention being called back (something like, “get in contact with me”), then you can use whatever form of communication you’d like.

EmpressPixie's avatar

I agree with dynamicduo: if they’ve asked to be called back, do so.

My only exception for this would be if, for whatever reason, you feel it is important to have a record of the conversation.

scamp's avatar

It depends on what they are calling about and how often they check their e-mail. If it’s not important, and you know they check in often, then go ahead.

Keep in mind they may think you are avoiding them if you e-mail instead of calling back, tho.

tonedef's avatar

I almost think that it’s rude to leave voicemails. It’s so difficult to organize and access them, and then calling back results in phone tag. You have to burn up minutes, and calling your voicemail is a hassle.

I prefer e-mail all the time, and so, would probably e-mail back in this situation unless it was a topic with emotional gravity, like if it was a friend who wanted to talk about problems.

dynamicduo's avatar

The generation gap really shines in points like this. For instance, I (someone in their 20s) much prefer email over any other form of communication: the written record, the accessibility from any computer, the time independence. I’d rather email than pick up a phone, no matter what the issue is. But the majority of people I work with still use phone calls and other communication means. It’s tough to find a good balance between the mediums we have.

tonedef's avatar

@dynamicduo, great point. Also, I prefer to hang up if I get a voicemail recording, and instead shoot over a text. I guess because I prefer the e-mail format, with a list of messages. Maybe if I had visual voicemail, I’d feel differently. But I prefer to read things at my own pace, and voicemail doesn’t allow that.

Jeruba's avatar

It would be rude not to respond, but I don’t think it’s rude to respond by a different medium* unless (as others have said) a phone call is explicitly requested. A person might be carrying a phone but away from e-mail and need to hear from you quickly.

These days there are so many means of communication that, specific requests aside, I think it is more a matter of custom and convenience than propriety which method of response you choose. I still like to see a personally handwritten, stamped, and mailed thank-you note for a personally wrapped and shipped or delivered gift, but beyond that I think it’s pretty loose.

I like e-mail because I can compose in my own time and not have to think on my feet so much, and because you can read it on your own timetable. You don’t have to both be awake and available at the same time.

In business, it’s often a matter of culture. Where I work, all the software engineering and documentation people communicate by e-mail. The marketing people are more at home on the phone. Learn what’s most accepted in your area and do that.

*plural: media

KatawaGrey's avatar

There have been some great answers and I think it really comes down to preference. Has this person showed that he/she prefers that you call back or just doesn’t care? I know I prefer a response in the same medium that I give a message unless otherwise indicated. Calling back is probably the best solution. If, however, you really can’t call back in a timely manner, for whatever reason, e-mail the person back and explain in the e-mail why you couldn’t call.

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