Telephone Manners

A lot of my job is on the phone I am almost always calling someone to give support. When I call somebody, I believe in being courteous. When they answer, I always say hello, tell them who I am and ask how they are doing. There are a few different responses I get.

about 40% of the time, the person to whom I am speaking is receptive, and reciprocates. “Hi Matt, I’m well, and you?” This is a good sign. It means that they are generally in a good mood, or at least aren’t letting stress or what have you get to them enough to direct any irritation toward me. I usually answer exaggeratedly. “I am, ah… Stupendous!” I’ll say. I usually get a chuckle and a “Well good! What can I do for you”.

Another 40% of the time, it catches the answerer off guard, and they’re not sure what to say. It’s like they believe that if they answer in a friendly manner, that they’re showing weakness or something, or perhaps that because I’m being friendly, I’m probably selling something or at least I’m someone to be wary of. What is wrong with this world that the simple act of being friendly puts people on the defensive?

Sometimes right after I introduce myself and ask how they’re doing, I’ll get a moment of dead air. I have to assume that either they’re taking a moment to assess themselves in order to give me an accurate report on exactly how they’re doing, they’re hoping I continue without waiting for an answer, because no one on this earth ever really cares how the person on the other end of the phone is doing, or they are considering lying to me, but they weren’t prepared.

The last 20% are the people who just don’t want to be bothered with the call. These are the people who answer “hullo.” I made that “h” lowercase on purpose, don’t gloss over it. Their tone just isn’t even formal enough to capitalize the transcription.

Believe it or not, I actually kind of enjoy these calls. I always lay it on a little thicker on these guys. I’ll introduce myself, and still ask how they are, knowing full well that they don’t want to talk. They will wait for me to continue, thinking to get away with not answering. I wait. Invariably, I get “good” to which I reply “Well good, I’m glad to hear that!” It seems to annoy them. Perhaps it’s sort of sadistic, but the idea that someone is so miserable that being nice to them is a source of irritation really kinda amuses me. Like, You really don’t want someone to be nice to you? That makes you mad? What would you rather, I was rude, and then you wouldn’t be obligated to talk to me? Heh, and give you that satisfaction? I think not.

I hope I’m not alone in being nice on the phone, am I? You guys are nice on the phone right? Which group would you be in if I called you right now??

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5 thoughts on “Telephone Manners

  1. I’m a recovering phonophobic [it that a word?]. I used to hate it when the phone would ring because it was always somebody wanting something from me. My immediate reaction to the sound was, “Aw $#|+!” I am mostly over it now… it has been ten years after all.So go ahead a call. See what happens.

  2. I start out in the first group, in that I’m always polite and agreeable on the phone and elsewhere. But I change to “cold-hearted SOB” in a millisecond when a telemarketer is on the other end of the line. I’m never ever profane or insulting, I just hang up. Immediately and unceremoniously. (click) We’re done.

  3. Although I hate talking on the phone, I’m always pleasant to whomever calls, even telemarketers. I understand it’s their job. They don’t need any unnecessary grief from me than I would need from someone about my work.

  4. I’m totally with you! I will admit that at times I absolutely hate talking to people on the phone, but if someone is nice to me, then I always try to be nice back.I’ll usually end up needing/having to call a few or so people too from work and I usually end up getting the same responses from people. If you were to call me right now, I would be polite and courteous and then want to get off the phone after a few or so minutes. ha ha ha.

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