I often get calls when it is least convenient. I don’t want to just hang up, because it feels rude. I don’t want to let it ring, because it is annoying.
I could flip my phone to silence the call and let it go to voice mail. But then the caller doesn’t know why I haven’t picked up. And if they do bother leaving a message, I’d have to listen to it. I don’t want that, now do I?
I found a better solution. Most phones let you define your auto-response templates. These are text messages you can quickly send a caller when hanging up. This is the perfect opportunity to explain why you can’t pick up and suggest a better way of reaching you.
My favorite is something along the lines of: “I can’t take a call right now, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org”. This is because for me emails are easier to manage. I can respond when it works best for me. And if the call is important, the caller has a way of following up. If it isn’t, well… Time saved.
So my advice for you is simple: set up an auto-response template. Tell the caller you are not available right now and how you’d prefer they would follow up. Should they call you after a certain time? Send you a text message?
Whatever you choose, try to avoid promising getting back to them yourself. This would just add to your commitments and worries. Leave it to them to get back to you in a way that works for you.