Phone tag is the usual situation in which two busy persons continuously calling one another on the phone yet keep missing each other’s calls.
When calling back each other, they both frequently get an answering machine or voicemail.
Despite claims to the contrary, research reveal that the phrase “phone tag” actually dates back to the middle of the 1980s, when answering machines were first made widely available in households and places of business.
The practice of playing phone tag over an extended period of time is widely seen as bad phone etiquette, and there are various suggested rules to help reduce it.
Scheduling issues frequently lead to an ongoing phone tag game because neither side ever appears to have the spare time to pick up the phone at the exact moment the other person hung up and left a voicemail.
In some cases, phone tag is the outcome of a deeper quarrel between two people.
When the other is likely to be available to pick up the phone, one frequently purposefully avoids calling at that time.
Direct communication that would require both parties to address their underlying concerns frequently replaces short answering machine messages.
Phone tag is frequently initially dismissed as a minor annoyance when it occurs accidentally as opposed to as the outcome of dispute.
As both parties continue to miss each other’s calls, the amount of irritation can typically increase.
Planning ahead and paying attention to details are common strategies for preventing phone tag.
Effective strategies include opening voicemail greetings that include times of general unavailability as well as detailed messages with a time to call back.
When the chat will be brief, email and instant messaging can also be used in place of phone communications.
Limits on the amount of calls are also imposed by proper phone etiquette in this kind of misunderstanding.
The last person to receive the most recent message may elect not to call back if more than two messages have been left for both parties.
When someone leaves a message complaining about the constant missed calls, this comment is frequently seen as authorization not to return the call.
Sometimes the two parties can put off the necessary dialogue till they are face to face rather than continue the phone calls.
The communications can be sent back and forth via email, with each party having the option to respond whenever it’s convenient.