The Friendship Doctor

Send in your friendship questions and quandaries and get expert answers and solutions

The Frustrations of Phone Tag

You can easily avoid phone tag when you really want to connect with someone.

QUESTION 

Dear Irene, 

I just recently reconnected with an old teacher of mine after 40 years. I sent her a letter letting her know what a difference she had made in my life and that I would like to see her again. She is 80 years old; I am 61. 

After finally finding her through a third party, she responded to my messages by voicemail, because I wasn't in. She said she was elated to receive my letter and that it was just like old times. Since then, we have been playing phone tag. I waited two weeks and left another message today. I must add that she had been sick with the flu. 

Now, I am not good at all with the telephone and I sense that she is not either. What suggestions have you so that at least we can meet one time? 

Thanks for your courtesy. 

Signed, Claire

ANSWER 

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Dear Claire, 

You want to see your former teacher and she wants to see you. You haven’t seen each other for forty years and she isn’t getting any younger.

I’m not sure what you mean about not being “good at all with the telephone” but if you want to make arrangements for a get-together, you are going to need to be more persistent about connecting by phone. 

Since you don’t know her schedule, why don’t you try calling her at various times of the day---perhaps once in the morning, once at mid-day, and once during the early evening to see if you can catch her?

If you are unsuccessful, leave a message on her voicemail asking her to let you know when the best time would be for you to call her. Alternatively, you can leave message telling her several times when she will be able to reach you. 

It sounds like you have created a wonderful opportunity to connect with someone who played an important role in your life. Don’t let it go by. 

Hope this helps. 

Best, Irene

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Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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