Perfectly unclear

“This is (name garbled) and could R please call me at (number garbled)?  We have a (garbled) (garbled) break and I need to talk to R right away.”  Click.

answer machine

So is this…. a water main break, an equipment break, are you taking a break from work?  There was certainly not enough clear information to even know what the message was about.

At least once a day I receive messages on our business answering machine that just can’t be deciphered.  I blame cell phones for some of the issues.   People who call using their cell phones may be surrounded by background noise from wherever they happen to be when they are calling. Sometimes they are distracted and are actually talking to another person while leaving a message.  Some cell phones are just not clear sounding. And remember, most people cannot write as fast as you can speak.

I have some common sense suggestions for leaving a phone message.

  • State your name slowly and clearly.  Better yet, spell it.  Andy can sound like Randy or Sandy or Lannie or Brandy.  Last names are even more diverse.  Spelling helps.
  • State what you want.  Do you want to talk to a certain person?  Do you have an emergency? Do you want me to call you back?  Be clear and specific.  I don’t need all the details but give me enough that I know what you want.
  • Tell us how to reach you.  If you give your phone number give it slowly.  For example,  123 (pause) 456 (pause) 7890.  If there are certain hours to call, let me know.  If you are leaving an email address be very clear.
  • If you are calling for someone else, please know all the information about that person.  “Uh, I am calling for John Doe.  Please call him back at …..hey Mom, what’s John’s phone number again?”
  • Eliminate background noise.  The radio, the computer, your TV, others talking or working in the same room, traffic, sirens.   Find a quiet spot to make your calls.
  • End your message politely.  A simple thank you is fine.  Or something like “Looking forward to hearing from you soon.”
  • Repeat anything that you think may need repeated.  Maybe its just your name or your phone number.  Be clear and make sure the receiver knows the important information.


If your message is important enough to leave on the answering machine, then it’s important enough to take the time to do it right.

Thanks.  This was Retired Ruth from  Looking forward to reading your comments.   No need to call me back.




About Life in the 50's and beyond...

Welcome to Life in the 50's and 60's and beyond .... where I write about my childhood memories, music of the 60's and about life in the country. I am a mother, grandmother, farmer's wife, business owner, and retired teacher.
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2 Responses to Perfectly unclear

  1. LB says:

    You are right on point! Patients leave messages (or partial messages) similar to what you have shared and I just have to assume that if it is an emergency, they will call back!


  2. Oh, my goodness. You are so ‘on the money’ here. I don’t have those problems much any more, but when I was teaching, I would often get the most confusing sounding messages left on my voice mail that I often didn’t know if the person was even speaking English (sometimes they weren’t). I changed my recording to very much what you’ve said above. The fact that it has to be spelled out (speak slowly, repeat the phone number, be clear in stating what you want, give me a specific time to call you back, etc.) annoys the heck out of me. No one seems to have any common sense any more!

    Liked by 1 person

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