What’s the Best Way to Reach Your Best Friend These Days?

I got a voice mail from a vendor the other day. He left me three numbers and the best times to reach him at each number.

One of my Project Managers said she was having a tough time reaching a client. I suggested she try the client’s cell phone since that client is almost never at her desk but she’s almost always available via cell phone.

I have a friend who almost never answers his phone, but if I send a direct Tweet, I get an instant response.

Egads. With all of these communication channels, what’s the best way to reach someone these days?

On any given day, I check multiple devices for voice mail, e-mail or text messages: work e-mail, personal e-mail, home phone, work phone, cell phone, Twitter and Facebook. Some of these channels overlap.  For example, direct messages on Twitter, Facebook messages and work voice mail all end up in my e-mail.

But with so many devices to check for messages, I invariably favor certain methods (work e-mail, work voice mail and cell phone), to the detriment of others. Case in point: I completely missed a friend’s voice mail on my home phone because she called while I was upstairs with the baby one Sunday. Since I was home all day, it never occurred to me that I might have missed a call, so I didn’t check voice mail for several days. Eeek.

Many of my friends and staff have consolidated communications on their cell phones. They have no land line at home and do everything on their smartphone. But my husband Maki and I won’t give up our land line because in an emergency, my trusty land line phone (an AT&T Trimline 210 from 1989) that does not need a power source will still work (unless the central office is out).

I thought Google Voice would save me. Google Voice gives you a phone number that’s tied to YOU, not the device. Currently, I have a Google Voice number that rings on my cell phone and home phone; by the end of the week, it will also ring my direct extension at work. I can program Google Voice to ring on specific phones during certain hours of the day. And I can make free calls anywhere in the US and around the world to other Google Voice subscribers. Pretty cool. Currently, only Maki, my mom and the nanny have this number because they’re the people who MUST reach me when they NEED to reach me. But here’s the rub: Google Voice gives me another mailbox to check! Ick. I hope I managed to disable that feature.

All of this thinking about how to reach me and how to reach other has got me thinking. Are we making ourselves crazy by always being reachable and having the expectation that everyone should be reachable at all times? If you’re an NCIS fan, you know that Gibbs’ Rule #3 is “Never be unreachable” so I guess I need to continue diligently checking e-mail, voice mail, text messages and social media messages. <sigh>

How about you? What’s the best way to reach YOU? And how do you let friends know the best to reach you?

3 thoughts on “What’s the Best Way to Reach Your Best Friend These Days?

  1. Really great post, Joanna. And of course you also have to account for generation gaps in these communication mechanisms as well. For instance, I bought my mother a cell phone and put her on my plan so she could have a phone with her while driving alone, etc., as well as be able to call me at any time for any reason (of course — I’m SUCH a good daughter!). But I could never text her, and I actually can’t leave her voicemails on her cell phone, because she doesn’t remember to check her mobile voicemail, only her home voicemail. And yet she does respond to Facebook posts and messages, so she is taking advantage of *some* newer forms of communication.

    I think integration is key, as you point out it is for you — the trick is the be reachable in all these different ways, but try to sync them all up so you don’t actually have to check for messages in as many places, which can be a daunting task. I don’t even keep up with Twitter anymore, for the most part; I just let my @weatherbykate posts filter into my Facebook feed and let folks respond to me there.

    One could probably write a thesis on this, truth be told… so much ground to cover. Lots to think about.

  2. Great post. If you’re an NCIS fan, you also know that Gibbs does not have a voicemail and he does not check email. He expects all his people to always “be reachable” via cellphone.

    This reminds me of an entry you did on Hyper-connectivity. It is scary and in some ways, terrible for one’s health.

    The expectation these days is not only that “you have to be reachable” but also instantaneously.

    Anyway, just like in marketing, you have to know your target. With me, with business associates and colleagues, I find work email to be the best channel. Most people today get their email on their smartphone. I always include my phone number in the email even if I know they already have it. This way when they read your email from the phone, they can click on the number and call you back right away. If they have to look up your number, they’ll put it off or won’t do it at all.

    With most of my friends and social acquaintances, I’m finding more and more that Facebook is the best way. For most of them, I don’t know their work email anyway.

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