“…but here’s my number! So call me maybe…” Everybody, sing along!
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I am literally the worst at voicemail. I can walk up to a woman I’m interested in and have a great conversation (as long as she’s game); I have no problems talking on the phone. But if someone doesn’t pick up, there’s just something about being recorded on a voicemail that turns me back into an awkward 13 year old.
I generally try to talk as little as possible to give myself the smallest chance of sounding like an Arrested Development character, “Hi, it’s Nathan, call me back!” or if I have more to say, I just hang up and send a quick text with details of what I called about and asking for a return call. Do you have any other recommendations? I think caring less would be a good start but that’s easier said than done.
I’m going to put on my crabby geezer hat for a moment. Here we go–honestly, I’m surprised anyone has any phone skills anymore. With the way we send texts and emails and tweets, humans have zero practice at dynamic human interaction. It’s a wonder we can speak at all…okay, done bitching.
Leaving a voicemail is awkward because you know you’re basically talking to yourself. There’s no interaction, no response. It can get weird in a hurry. I think it’s fine to leave a brief message for the woman you’re interested in. Even if you have more to say, keep it short. “Hi, it’s Nathan, I was just checking in to see if we’re still on for brunch tomorrow. Talk to you soon.” You can work out details like time, place, who’s driving, etc, when you actually connect. If even managing that much turns you into Rainman, write down what you want to say ahead of time. I’m serious. I first started talking to boys on the phone around the age of 13 or 14. I used to get so nervous that I’d write down a list of topics I could possibly turn to if the conversation stalled. Nerd alert! But it helped. I felt less stressed starting the phone call because I knew I had a backup plan. That doesn’t mean the conversation wasn’t awkward. Oh, it was painful–thankfully I was too green to notice. Anyway, go ahead and write yourself a script (hopefully you’re better at conversing than the 13-year-old Beth). Who’s going to know?
There are few movie scenes more painful to watch than Mikey self-destructing.
If your message ends up going south, cut and run. Don’t linger with–“Wow, that sounded really dumb,” or “I didn’t mean to imply we’ll be sleeping together tonight.” End the phone message on a cheerful note and bail. Don’t call back. Ignore the neurotic impulse to explain yourself. Attempts to “fix it” always sound worse than whatever bone-headed thing you initially said. I agree, Nathan, caring less about the outcomes of our actions, especially when it comes to love, would make meeting people, dating people, and committing to people, much easier. It would also make life less rich. Part of the reward of finding someone you want to be with is how vulnerable you first felt (and probably still feel at times) when you were trying to make it happen. Putting yourself out there, risking embarrassment (which is actually guaranteed, truth be told)–it’s the price you have to pay to find love.
Back to being a geezer…I know that texting is how people connect “these days.” It’s unavoidable. But you have to talk to the person you’re dating–or interested in dating–at some point. So why not get some practice for your in-person interactions by actually speaking on the phone once in awhile, instead of making all plans via text? Awkward phone calls used to be a rite of passage (see 13-year-old Beth). Let’s bring it back, gentlemen.
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