Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Telephone Etiquette

There was one hope for the New Year that I should have added to my list:

Always answer the phone with a smile in my voice.

I'm not a 'phone person'.  I actually get very nervous calling people I don't know well, unless it's for an appointment or something.  While I do ring my friends for a chat, I usually prefer email or Facebook.  That way both parties get to respond when they are able to (particularly good if you're a mum and can't stop to chat).  So when I do pluck up the courage to ring someone and they sound less than jovial, it puts a significant dent in my armour.  They may be smiling on the other end, but unless I can hear it in their voice, I feel like they are annoyed at me for calling.

I'm just as guilty of this.  Many times I have hastily snatched up the phone and barked a hello at the caller.  It's not because I'm in a bad mood, but often I'm on the run and I'm breathless.  I probably sound quite annoyed to the caller.

So now, if I'm not in the mood to talk, if it's 'arsenic hour', or I'm heading out the door and running late, I don't answer.  It's better for the caller to leave a message and I'll call them back at a more convenient time.  Who knows, they may be nervous about calling me and I've just shattered their confidence by being abrupt!  We have caller ID on our phone now so if anyone other than Duncan calls me during arsenic hour, I don't answer.

Here's my telephone etiquette:

1.  Thou shalt not call during arsenic hour unless it's an emergency
For parents of small children, that's the crazy time between 5-7:30pm when dinner, baths, stories and bedtimes occur.  I only have one baby and it's mad enough already.  It's the time when children are overtired and whingy, Dad is getting home from work (hopefully), and Mum is frantically trying to get dinner on the table (oh and throw in a few pets wanting their dinners, too).  So nothing annoys me more than someone calling 'just for a chat' during that time.  Even before we had Rory, I was getting home from work, putting shopping away, getting dinner, feeding pets....I can't juggle a deep and meaningful phone conversation with all of that.  I used to tell Duncan off for calling friends with kids during that time.

2.  Thou shalt not juggle two conversations at once
Occasionally I've been on the phone to a friend and they've said, "Oh hang on, there's another call coming through," and put me on hold.  This is fine if they've been waiting for a very important call, but it's just been another friend of theirs calling for a chat.  So I've been left on hold while they juggle two conversations.  Either ignore call waiting or tell the person who's ringing that you're on the phone to someone else and you'll call them back.

3.  Thou shalt leave short, concise answering machine messages
Often I've come home, pressed the button on the answering machine and stood there for what seemed like ages, listening to a very long-winded message.  I think some people think that they should relay the whole conversation they were planning to have with you onto the answering machine.  I've listened to some very strange rambly messages (yes, there are some regular culprits) where the caller has mentioned every little thing about their day.  I guess they don't want me to call them now that they've told me everything.  Leave your name, number and a BRIEF message...that's it.

4.  Thou shalt not make me speak to someone I don't know
Sometimes I've been talking to someone on the phone and they've said, "Oh my friend Bob is here.  Talk to them for a bit while I check the dinner," resulting in a very awkward few minutes where Bob and I really have no idea what to say to each other because we've never met before or just don't know each other that well.

5.  Thou shalt not go to the toilet while on the phone
Too much information...really!  If you're really busting, excuse yourself and put the receiver down somewhere, or don't let on to the other person where you are and what you're doing.  I've had people announce they were sitting on the toilet and I could hear what they were doing.  That's a mental image I just don't need.

6.  Thou shalt not call about unimportant things at ungodly hours
I've made the mistake of telling some people, "Call me anytime if you really need me."  Big mistake!  Some people's definition of 'emergency' is different to mine.  Calling me late on a work night to tell me your parents are coming to visit and you're excited really can wait until morning...can't it?

7.  Thou shalt not call repeatedly and not leave a message
When Rory was a few weeks old, I was trying to have a nap when someone kept calling and calling and hanging up when it went through to the answering machine.  GRRR!

If you're calling on the phone,
And the person is not home,
Leave a message that is concise
Speak clearly, be nice.

Answering the phone is a choice,
So have a smile in your voice.
Think of the person you're trying to call,
If it's a bad time, don't call at all.

What do you think is good telephone etiquette?

1 comment:

Iris Flavia said...

I hate talking to strangers on the phone, too, it´s a pain...
Oh, my #5... really?!