I like you. Just don't call me on the phone. thanks!
March 7, 2006 5:42 AM   Subscribe

If an acquaintance asks me for my contact info but I would rather have them not be able to contact me outside our usual run ins, how do I tell them that without sounding like a complete jerkface?

It's not that I hate these people or anything, I just really don't like to have people unnecessarily call (or email, or instant message) me.

I cannot imagine any way of telling someone that without it sounding like "I hate being around you. Don't call me. kthnx," which is not the case at all (really!).

Any suggestions?
posted by zippity to Human Relations (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can try saying, in an embarrassed tone of voice, "I'm..I'm just really weird about giving out my phone number, sorry." Like, please forgive me for being neurotic about this, heh heh. You could create a throwaway hotmail email address and give that out as a way of letting them think you're giving them something. But point out, in that same apologietic tone, that you're pretty bad about checking your email and they shouldn't feel bad if you don't get back to them right away.
posted by Gator at 5:46 AM on March 7, 2006

I have a secondary email address that I use for this purpose. If you're really trying to not be contacted, I think you have two choices. Find a way to say up front what you said here "I really don't like getting unnecessary calls/emails/etc, so, NO." or you'll have to obfuscate in some way. I use the yahoo email address I have for signing up for things requiring an email address, giving to people who need to email me a password, and giving to people who I don't really want to hear from. I check the account once a week or if I'm expecting something, but otherwise I pretty much let it lie fallow. Alternately if you have one of those cell/landline homes, you could give out the landline number and then just never answer it, or put caller ID on it and mostly never answer it.

I do think it's a tricky business to say "It's not you, I just never ever want to hear from you outside of work" even though it's your right to feel however you want about contact from other people, you may need to make some concessions for the fact that people might want to contact you even if you don't want to be contacted by them.
posted by jessamyn at 5:51 AM on March 7, 2006

Is there some background to "just really don't like to have people unnecessarily call"? Because it sounds to me like either you really do hate being around them or there's some other (presumably perfectly valid) reason you don't like hearing from people. Maybe you should just tell them one or the other?
posted by cillit bang at 5:56 AM on March 7, 2006

A second tier free email address is perfect for this kind of thing, along with the warning that you're really bad at getting back to people. And I totally understand where you're coming from.
posted by unSane at 6:00 AM on March 7, 2006

The second email address is a good option, much better in terms of civility than saying that you won't give your information. What I say in those types of situations (who am I kidding, no fricking asks me for my digits) is "The best way to get in touch with me is through email, but even then I can be pretty bad about getting back to people. *wry smile* I try, though." The issue, or course, is that you want to still be able to have a nice chat when you run into the person when you do run into them. If you just never respond to their email, they'll probably get pissed.
posted by OmieWise at 6:06 AM on March 7, 2006

You give them your contact details. Seriously.

If you can't give the time of day to someone contacting you then they can't really be called an "acquaintance". If you dislike them that much, then they probably have realised that already.

A second email address for "lesser friends" just seems really crass to me. In addition, you can always delay an email response or tell them you're busy on the phone - it doesn't need you to set anything new up.

Anyway, what's to say that they will contact you? I've got contact details of people that I have no immediate need to call/email, but if I do, I'd hope they are gracious enough to lsten/read.
posted by mr_silver at 6:22 AM on March 7, 2006

You know that saying, pick your nose not your friends? And then you are all like "I'll pick what I damn well please."

Well, without knowing the specifics I'm going to say that it's best to give them your real contact information unless you have some specific safety reason (or if you know, perhaps they will call you at 3AM with a sob story). I would say this is a part of doing business, you have to "fake" friendships. I mean so what they take up 5 minutes of your day once, if you do business with them it will be more than worth it. Do not underestimate how important someone is

But to answer your question more directly. If someone I really don't like tries to talk to me, I give them my number and then tell them that I don't answer calls but I do check my voicemails. Then I wait a couple days to get back to them. This eliminates the chatty factor and makes them call you when they need you. People aren't stupid, 99% of our population picks up on the subtle hints we give out that we don't want to someone.
posted by geoff. at 6:27 AM on March 7, 2006

Give your phone number. See Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan in Coffee and Cigarettes.
posted by aladfar at 7:46 AM on March 7, 2006

This question seems wierd to me. The time honored-way of dealing with this situation is to give out the contact info and then blow them off.

If the blow-off method won't work, something tells me that there is more to this question than meets the eye. Of course, I really have no way of knowing that from the post -- but my spidey sense says there's something.

FWIW, I had a friend who had similar difficulties. This is a good friend of many years who I thought I knew everything about. Turns out I didn't know that the person she lived with was a controlling freak who had very wierd rules about who could and could not set foot in the apartment. My friend was so used to dancing around these rules that it seemed like her problem whenever she had to blow off a normal acquaintence and didn't know how to do it. they broke up and everyone is happier now.

Now that probably isn't your exact situation. And I am probably reading way too much into it. But I am super curious now as to why you say you don't like unnecessary calls or emails.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:01 AM on March 7, 2006

mr_silver writes "If you can't give the time of day to someone contacting you then they can't really be called an 'acquaintance'"

acquaintance != friend. The only criteria for having an acquaintance is having a passing knowledge of someone.
posted by apple scruff at 8:32 AM on March 7, 2006

When meeting someone in person who I didn't really want to get in touch with me, I'd give them an e-mail address but mention how busy I am or something. And then, if they do e-mail me (and the matter truly wasn't pressing), I'd wait at least a week to respond. People don't bother you as much if you take longer to respond than is the norm. I think the easiest and most polite thing to do is to simply minimize the contact details you give them. If you just give out an e-mail address, they won't be calling/im-ing you.

If you really, really do not want to give out any contact information, you'll have to think of a phrase to say in advance. If you have your short, scripted excuse and apology ready, when someone asks you for your contact information, you'll have your answer ready.
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 9:06 AM on March 7, 2006

Response by poster: I really appreciate all the advice and insight provided so far. As for my reasons for limiting contact, it's mainly because I enjoy talking to people face to face, and also when I'm at home I do not like to be disturbed. I don't mind people calling or emailing me just to give me a heads up on something, but there are quite a few who have taken advantage of my time and patience.

I do give my real contact info out but I usually have a period after I meet someone before I feel like I can trust them with it.

oh, and --

selfmedicating : I am basically in the situation you just described, which I wasn't even going to bring up at all until you wrote that.
posted by zippity at 9:22 AM on March 7, 2006

Urgh. Best of luck to you, zippity.

(This kind of thing is why we have really got to stop it with the "Your question sounds suspicious" stuff around here.)
posted by Gator at 9:31 AM on March 7, 2006

There are three sets of people.
Friends, Acquantences (people you're friendly with) and people you have to be friendly with (such as your coworkers/boss).
It's not cut and dry - it's like a bulls eye where people float closer and further from the center.

Understanding which group someone sits dictates how to deal with them.

This person sounds more like the last category than an Acquaintance. You don't want to ever be friendlier and it sounds like you *have* to be friends with them.

Give them your number. Never return the call. Give them ALSO your email. When they call, a day or so later, email back "I'm so sorry I'm so busy. It's crazy right now. I'm sorry I couldn't call back. Hope you're well."

Short, concise and to the point. Any longer and it invites more interaction.
posted by filmgeek at 10:30 AM on March 7, 2006

My SunRocket VOIP service comes with two phone numbers. Voice mail can be configured separately on each. If it were me, I'd give out the second number to such people and set it to always go to voice mail.

However, I'm usually in the position of wanting more people to call me, not fewer, so I wouldn't actually do that.
posted by kindall at 10:55 AM on March 7, 2006

acquaintance != friend. The only criteria for having an acquaintance is having a passing knowledge of someone.

But to class someone as an acquaintance means you need to be ok to have contact with them, even if it is very little and lasts only a few minutes.

This guy doesn't want contact so much from someone that people are recommending alternative email addresses. To me that classes someone closer to "enemy" than it does "acquaintance" ...but then maybe i'm too easy going.
posted by mr_silver at 11:38 AM on March 7, 2006

Give them your cell number and let it go to voicemail, then you can refer to the voicemail at your next in-person meeting ("Oh! I'm so sorry I haven't had a chance to call you back!")

Or, when they ask for your info, say, "But these random in-person meetings are so fun! Planning meet-ups always takes the excitement and spontaneity out of things..." Assuming you do meet randomly, and fairly often, and that you can say this without laughing. Even then, it sounds suspicious.
posted by SuperNova at 12:35 PM on March 7, 2006

if you get a maxemail (maxemail.com) account, you can get a secondary phone number in your area code that forwards to your secondary e-mail. That way you don't have to give out your primary number or e-mail and no one is offended.
posted by bananafish at 8:58 PM on March 7, 2006

mr_silver : "But to class someone as an acquaintance means you need to be ok to have contact with them, even if it is very little and lasts only a few minutes."

No, I think acquaintance is really anyone you bump into enough for their to be recognition. And there's a world of difference between being ok with bumping into someone on the street vs. being contacted at home by someone.

My advice for zippity is the secondary email address notion.
posted by Shutter at 3:50 PM on March 29, 2006

« Older Can you name this movie?   |   white boy brown girl Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.