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This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs in health care settings.

~February 2011~

Just Pick Up the Phone


In today’s world, there’s a lot to be said for technological advances.  First there was the introduction of PCs, then on to laptops and cell phones, netbooks and now the Ipad.  Cell phones are now “smart phones” capable of sending and receiving email, keeping your calendar entries, your contact information, the ability to utilize the clock function as an alarm clock not to mention surfing the web. 

There are all these “social networks” (Facebook, Linked In, MySpace to name a few) where people can stay connected and know what’s going on each other’s lives.  People can post what they’re doing and even let people know where they are and when they arrive at their destination.  Of course, you may want to re-consider the usefulness of that feature in today’s world of crime and thievery.

But the point is:  all these tools were supposed to enhance communication.  Do they really?  I can honestly admit that yes, I, as a Boomer Generation person, text – to my daughters, my grandchildren and even my assistant and paid staff from time to time.  There is a time and a place for all these technological tools.  I am not decrying the use of technology or available tools to get the task at hand accomplished.  But sometimes, you just need to pick up the phone and call the person for an actual discussion. 

While the concept of texting or email accomplishes the major task at hand – delivering the message; some of the communication is lost.  The person receiving the message does not have the benefit of hearing the message.  Here are some considerations the next time you play text/email tag with someone.

  • Voice influx can reveal a lot about the message itself.  Without the benefit of hearing the voice, some of the message can be lost.  What is the tone of the message – is the voice happy, sad, angry, rushed, inquisitive, rude?
  • You have the opportunity to clarify questions/issues rather than trading texts and emails back and forth multiple times.  Not to mention the time savings of typing or “tapping” all those characters into your phone.
  • If you’re talking on the phone, you don’t have to wait until they answer the text or email. 
  • It allows you to foster relationships with people (and isn’t that what we are all about anyway?).
  • Some of today’s youth are graduating high school and college with the inability to write a complete sentence or spell properly because of texting in an abbreviated manner.

So my challenge to you this year, the next time you go to send an email or text, ask yourself if picking up the phone might be a better alternative.

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The author of the Heath Care Volunteer Programs column is Mary Kay Hood MS, Hendricks Regional Health, Danville, IN (317) 745-3556. With a BS degree in biology from Marian College and a Master of Science in Management from Indiana Wesleyan University, Mary Kay has been involved in volunteer management over twenty years with a zoo and in the health care field. During that time, she completed the Management of Volunteer Programs course offered at University of Indianapolis, several supervisory training programs as well as the Indiana Hospital and Health Association’s Management Institute offered by the Executive Education Program, School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. Mary Kay served on the Nonprofit Training Center of United Way from 1993 to 2006. During that time, she taught many workshops also facilitating speaker arrangements for the Basic Volunteer Management series. Additionally, she has presented at various national and international conferences. Mary Kay served as president of the Central Indiana Association for Volunteer Administration (CIAVA) from 1993-1997 and the Indiana Society of Directors of Volunteer Services (ISDVS) from 2006-2008. She was also the recipient of the 1995 Outstanding Director of Volunteer Services Award and the 2002 United Way of Central Indiana Volunteer of the Year Award. Most recently she served on the Steering Committee for COVAA resulting in the formation of a new national membership organization for those in volunteer management, the Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE). With several published articles, she is also author to two books: The One Minute Answer to Volunteer Management Questions and The Volunteer Leader as Change Agent.

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