Leaving a Message Differently (Do Something Different #19)

Many days I try to look at how the written word can help me in other ways than writing stories.  I might have found one in a place I least expected.

I hate leaving messages on phones.  I absolutely love it when someone picks up on the other end so I can avoid sound like I’m babbling.  And when I babble, I feel embarrassed, which makes me forget what I want to say.  I have no idea why I do this when I call someone on the phone.  I’d much rather write them a letter or an email or speak with them directly.  It’s just easier for me to say things with my hands than with my own voice.  And leaving a message on a phone is the intermediary between these indirect and direct communication methods.

Talk or no talk.  My favorite boundaries.

So, in the hope that I would remember what it was I wanted to say in my message, I wrote it out.  I wrote it out like I was talking to the person I wanted to speak to.  Being the writer I am, though, I had to make a few edits before I called them.  I wanted it to sound as polite as possible without being pushy.

And so I called them.  And when they didn’t respond, I left them a message.  No, wait.  I read the message I wrote.  And as I was reading it, I felt bad — as if in the midst of preventing myself from sound like a naive fool, I wasn’t being genuine.  That’s when I began to read it almost as if I were reading a character’s lines like a voice actor’s — except I’m the character, and the story is real life.  But that still made it a little bit awkward.

Needless to say, once I ended the message, I did what I set out to do.  I left a message that I thought was direct, had what I wanted to say, and did not leave me trying to grasp at what I was trying to say.  However, I don’t plan to read straight from a piece of paper with my words on it to a person I wish to speak to again, because it felt rude.  Instead, I believe a healthier approach to something like this would be to write out a message to solidify what you want to say, but only glance at it if you don’t remember.  Or maybe making bullet points would be best.

Next time I’ll try to see what works.  And perhaps in the future, I’ll learn to leave aside the pen and paper regarding messages with phones.


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