Why I don’t answer most phone calls

The question of the phone call etiquette has been coming up more and more often recently.  Is it polite to call without a prior message or agreement? What time should one call? What’s the decision point for opting for the phone call versus some other communication channel?  These, and many other questions are popping up frequently.

I came across a nice blog post – “Why I don’t answer most phone calls” – which discusses some of the reasons why this particular person doesn’t answer phone calls.  It’s a good quick read, but here is a summary:

  1. Because I’m busy.
  2. Because my agenda and tasks are also on my phone.
  3. Because a call leaves no trace.
  4. Because your communication is worse.
  5. Because repeating yourself is costly.
  6. Because it’s awkward.
  7. Because my memory sucks.

And I do agree with these points.  Call do interrupt and are rarely timed well.  Most people suck at communications, so calls drag on forever.  Whenever something is discussed or decided, there is no trace of it.  And my memory is horrible.

However, I do still answer phone calls.  But my personal expectation is that a call is:

  • either about something really urgent,
  • or I’ve missed a text/message and left it without response for longer than the caller expected (beer for lunch? and it’s lunch already),
  • or it’s from a good friend or family, who I haven’t heard from in a while.

If it’s none of the above, I tend to get irritated and think much lesser of the world around me in general, and a person calling me in particular. :)

RFC 1855 : Netiquette guidelines

More and more people spend more and more time online. I wish more and more of them read RFC 1855 which covers netiquette guidelines. This document is more than 10 years old, but most of the points that it discusses are as valid today as they were back then. Some are even more important today than they used to be. Another good thing about this RFC is that it has theoretical directions combined with some practical advice.

A good rule of thumb: Be conservative in what you send and liberal in what you receive. You should not send heated messages (we call these “flames”) even if you are provoked. On the other hand, you shouldn’t be surprised if you get flamed and it’s prudent not to respond to flames.

Reading this document won’t make you wise enough to avoid all the mistakes of online communications, but it can seriously minimize them.

How to handle web rudeness?

Web Worker Daily asks an interesting question – “How do you handle web rudeness?

This is probably a nobrainer for people who have been on the web for some time, but newcomers, especially those to the blogosphere and the world of forums, are often puzzled.  It’s very easy to insult someone on the web.  Pick a forum or a blog.  Write a comment.  You’re done.  And sad fact of life is that many people do just that.

Having a blog (albeit not the most popular) for a few years now, I’ve seen some of that rudeness and some of those insults.  Both private and public.  And here is how I go about them.

First of all, I treat both private and public insults equally. I don’t differentiate.  If I can think of the way to make fun of it, I respond publicly. If I can’t, I just delete and ignore the comment.  If I get two or more insults in a row  from the same person, I ban, blacklist, and filter the originating username, IP address, and email.  And then I don’t care.

My thinking is that there is enough crap going on already, to take some more from the Web.  I consider the Internet to be the best thing since… since… since… since the beginning of times.  If something bad is coming out  of it, I either convert it into good (humor, smile, good mood), or I totally get rid of it.  It’s as simple as that.

P.S.: Just to make something crystal clear – with non-insulting comments I respond in the same scope.  If the message was private, I reply in private. If it was public, I reply in public.  Sometimes, if I feel like the public can benefit from a private discussion, I’d ask the permission of the other party to publish the conversation.  To be on the safe side, I’d often forward the preview of the post too, to clarify what exactly will be published.  Insulting comments never get a private reply – it’s either nothing, or a public joke.