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You're Not On Mute, You Know
By:Constance Weygandt

I am a multitasker. That is why I love the mute button when on a conference call in my home. It allows me to get a few small tasks done, let my dog in and out of the house and keep a running commentary going with the host, with no one the wiser.

I say things like;

“I agree.”
“I’m with you.”
“You’re right.”

Sometimes I say things like:

“That can’t be right.”
“Well, I wouldn’t put it that way.”
“I don’t agree with you.”

Such was the case the other night, while on a conference call. However, I started to notice something different about this call. As always, I said a few words when I got on and immediately put myself on mute. Then it seemed as if there were technical difficulties. The host sounded as if he was speaking in a tunnel. I thought that strange but things happen. The call became stranger. In my running commentary, to myself, I would ask questions that it seemed the host anticipated. I thought, “ Wow. This guy is really great. He anticipates any question someone could ask.”

Finally, in trying to drive home his point, he made an analogy involving a first car. He said, “Imagine your first car. It’s a stick shift with a clutch and you drive it to the top of a hill and then what happens?”

I answered, on mute, “Well, obviously, you start to slide back down the hill.”

The host laughed,“ You could do that but no, you would floor the gas.”

Then I knew. The most horrible sensation washed over me.

“I am not on mute, am I?”

“No, you are not on mute.”

This whole time, on the conference call, as my unfiltered thoughts are spouting out of my mouth, people from all across the nation are listening to me. Mute had betrayed me. What was once my conference call ally was now just a nightmare. I instinctively disconnected the call.

What I found to be very, very odd was that not one person mentioned that they could hear me. It would have been nice of someone had said, “ You’re not on mute, you know.” Or “ I can hear you.” So, I wondered, even if I am in the privacy of my home and on mute where no one can hear me, is it ever a good idea to let thoughts flow out of your mind unfiltered and say them aloud?

I have learned my lesson. From now on, I will mute both the phone and myself when on a conference call. And, in the future, do me a favor? If you come across someone who appears to be chattering for no apparent reason other than to hear themselves talk, will you gently remind them, “ You’re not on mute, you know.” I know I will.

Constance Weygandt

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