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Voice-mail quiz identifies user's etiquette quotient

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Southwestern Bell has produced the following quiz to figure out your voice-mail personality style in relation to your voice-mail etiquette. An analysis of the results appears below. How do you rank?

Directions: Circle the letter of the corresponding choice that best describes your voice-mail habits.

1. When leaving voice-mail messages for others, how long does your message last?

(A) Less than 10 seconds

(S) 10-30 seconds

(S) More than 30 seconds but definitely less than 1 minute

(R) Less than 1 minute

2. How long does it usually take for others to return your voice-mail messages?

(This is under ordinary circumstances you are reasonably certain that recipients are checking their voice mail.)

(S) Within the same day

(S) 24-48 hours

(I) More than 48 hours sometimes my messages are never returned

3. Do you lose your train of thought while leaving voice-mail messages?

(R) Frequently it is often hard to concentrate when leaving voice mail

(R) Sometimes usually when I have a lot to say in one message

(S) Rarely

(S) Never

4. How often are you asked to repeat message content due to a lack of clarity or articulation on your part?

(A) Frequently

(I) Sometimes usually when I have a lot to say in one message

(S) Rarely

(S) Never

5. Do you think about what you are going to say prior to leaving a voice mail?

(R) Never

(I) Occasionally

(S) Frequently

(S) Always

Scoring key: Add up the number of times your circled each letter:

R A I S

Voice-mail quiz scoring guide

--------------------------------------

If you scored at least one R, you might be ... The Rambler.

The Rambler is not an uncommon persona. It is often characterized by lengthy, excessively detailed messages that include more information than you could (or would) ever hope for. Telltale signs you might be entering The Rambler zone include:

?Routinely exceeding the voice-mail message time limit.

?Losing your train of thought while leaving your message, causing you to repeat information or wander between topics.

?Lack of forethought before picking up the phone.

If you scored at least one A, you might be ... The Auctioneer.

A complete opposite of The Rambler, The Auctioneer attempts to leave a comprehensive voice-mail message (i.e., name, number, time of day, requested information, etc.) in a 10-second-or-less message.

A short message is fine if you are leaving a voice mail for a close friend and merely want to say "call me," but for

90 percent of your voice-mail use,

you would never want to make this mistake.

As a result, many voice-mail users try to cram a 30-second message into a 10-second window. The voice-mail recipient is stuck playing the message repeatedly before they can finally decipher your phone number.

If you scored at least one I, you might be ... The Riddler.

Riddlers of the world just like to keep us guessing. Or it could be they are too shy to leave us important information such as their name or phone number. If you find yourself overly self-conscious when leaving voice mail, practice, practice, practice. If a voice-mail-shy personality is not your problem, you might need to make a short list of voice-mail "vitals" and have it handy when you are making calls.

Perhaps a note with the following would be helpful: 1) your name, 2) your number, 3) reason for the call, and 4) your availability for a return call and/or when you need to hear back. Either way, as a Riddler, you may be inadvertently discouraging return phone calls.

If you scored S across the board, you are on your way to becoming ... The Smooth Operator.

Congratulations, you appear to be well on your way to achieving perfection in effective, efficient voice-mail etiquette. Although you may already qualify for the Miss Manners hall of fame, we recommend reviewing the voice-mail etiquette tips to further develop your obvious voice-mail talent.

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