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10 telephone blunders that could hurt your image


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In part one and part two of a previous article, I discussed e-mail blunders. Frankly, I was shocked at the heavy positive response to that article. I guess everyone is as annoyed as I am at the practices I described there. To all of you who voted on, commented on, or read that article, thanks.

It's just as easy and just as damaging to blunder with the telephone. Here are the biggest mistakes I see.

#1: Answering a cell phone during meeting

A special place in h--l awaits those who do so. OK, maybe that was too harsh. Let's just say I really despise people who do this. If you're in a meeting, focus your attention on the meeting. That ringing phone is going to distract everyone around you, so set it to vibrate or to stay silent, or simply switch it off. And don't get upset with the people who called you during that meeting. They don't know where you are, and it's not their fault you forgot to adjust your phone.

What about legitimate interruptions? Suppose, for example, your wife is due to deliver your child. Here are some ideas:

  • Leave as quietly as possible and wait until you're out of the room before answering.
  • If your phone is capable of doing so, forward calls to another person, such as your assistant or the assistant or co-worker of the meeting host.
  • Give your cell phone to that person before you enter the meeting and ask them to take any calls (remembering to retrieve it afterward).
  • Ignore the call, letting it go into voicemail, and then check it after the meeting or during a break.

#2: "I can't talk now, I'm in a meeting"

Well, if everyone followed the suggestion above, we would never have people tell us, "Sorry I can't talk right now, I'm in a meeting," would we? Yes, I agree, making this statement is better than carrying on a separate cell phone conversation during a meeting. Nonetheless, I'm confused: If the person who says this to me is truly in a meeting, why [insert optional expletive here] is he or she even answering the call in the first place?

Here's one possibility: One or more attendees in the meeting can't be there physically but rather must call in and be on a speakerphone. In that case, if the "wrong" person calls, yes, the "I'm in a meeting" statement would be appropriate. However, be sure to explain why -- that you were expecting someone else to call -- and be sure to apologize to the caller for being the "wrong person."

#3: Breaking telephone appointments

In the past two weeks, I had appointments to call two people at particular dates and times. One of those people, about 30 minutes beforehand, called and left a voicemail. He apologized and said that he had been called into a last-minute meeting and would be unavailable to speak at our earlier agreed-upon time. He suggested alternate days. I appreciated that gesture, and I let him know.

When I called the second person, at the agreed-upon time and date, I received no answer. Thinking he was late, I waited about five minutes, then called a second time. Again, no answer. I called once or twice after that and then forgot about the matter. The next day, when I did reach this person, he sounded a little annoyed (thus breaking rule 1 above). "Calvin," he said, "I was called into a last-minute meeting, so I couldn't take your call. It was a little embarrassing to hear my phone when you were calling." I did apologize, telling him that had I known about the meeting, I wouldn't have called, and that the ringing of his cell phone probably disrupted the meeting. The key issues, of course, were his failure to tell me (or to have someone tell me) about that meeting and his apparent failure to silence his phone.

Telephone appointments are just as important as face-to-face ones. If you can't keep the appointment, let the other person know as soon as possible.

#4: Outdated voicemail greetings

If you're going to be away from the office, say so in your greeting, especially if you don't plan to check voicemail. Unless they know otherwise, people who leave messages will have a false expectation. Of course, many times, I call people and they never answer anyway. In that case, maybe it doesn't make any difference whether they say they're away or not.

Be sure to change your greeting back when you return. Nothing is more embarrassing than having a greeting that's three weeks old.

#5 Unhelpful voicemail referrals

I once called a person and heard from her greeting that she was out on maternity leave. Her greeting directed callers to contact either of two co-workers but never gave their telephone numbers or extensions. What good is such a greeting, except for those who already know the number? Another greeting told me to hang up and dial the number (which the greeting did announce) of a subordinate. This greeting is better but still involves extra work for the caller.

Two superior options are to:

  • Forward calls to the covering person.
  • Set your zero out or covering extension to be that of the person.

In either case, get permission first, particularly if it's your boss.

#6: The "surrogate greeting"

I hear these greetings more than I care to. Generally, it happens when I call a (usually male) executive. After the three rings, I hear a (usually female) voice announce the greeting.

This type of greeting sends the wrong message: namely, that you can't be bothered to set your own greeting. Even worse, it might signal that you're technologically illiterate. Matthew 25: 23 says that to be entrusted with large responsibilities, we first must be faithful with small ones. Imagine, therefore, the message the CIO sends with a surrogate greeting: "Trust me with your million-dollar ERP implementation, but just be aware that I don't know how to set my own voicemail greeting."

#7: Lack of zero out

Need I say anything more? You've probably all run into that annoying Audix message that you get when you try to zero out: "No operator defined." Take the time to define your covering or zero out extension. Your callers will appreciate it.

#8: Confusing "nametag" with "greeting"

Your nametag is the short recording in which you record your name -- nothing more, nothing less. The system uses it when you send voicemail internally, so recipients know who the sender is. The system also generally appends it to a default system greeting for you. The nametag is not your greeting, so don't confuse the two. Who wants to hear this kind of greeting:

Your call is being answered by Audix. Hi, this is Joe Brown, I'm away from my desk. Please leave your name and number and I'll call you back. Thanks and have a nice day is not available. To leave a message, wait for the tone. Record at the tone. [beep]

The person essentially has recorded a double greeting. Don't make this same mistake.

#9: Answering with "hello"

When you answer this way, it sounds unprofessional. In addition, it wastes time, because the caller then has to ask if it's really you. Instead, answer with your name.

#10: Speakerphone abuse

Speakerphones provide convenience. Unfortunately, convenience for you could come across as arrogance to the other person. You risk giving the impression that the other person is too unimportant for you to use the handset. If you're on hold, or navigating a menu system, or doing anything else not requiring a live person, a speakerphone is okay, as long as you keep the volume down. However, once the live person answers, disable the speakerphone and pick up the handset.

If you must use a speakerphone with the other person, get permission first and identify all the people at your end. It's best to use a conference room and to shut the door. Keep in mind that when you use a speakerphone at your cubicle, you risk disclosing your personal life to your co-workers.

Additional blunders?

These are my top 10 irritants. I know there are more, and I welcome your comments here or via e-mail at csun@calvinsun.com.

About

Calvin Sun is an attorney who writes about technology and legal issues for TechRepublic.

65 comments
MikeNaird
MikeNaird

Some of the strictures in this advice piece are far too severe. The writer would do well to remember that he is dealing with people, not machines, and to be more open and flexible in his responses to normality. Don't be such a perfectionist prig, it makes you waspish and hard to work with. Excellence and high expectations are necessary, but remember, people will respond to you better if they don't find you a strain to deal with.

ctarcola
ctarcola

How about the mental midgets who call back after you have called them, and they have caller ID. They call you, without identifying themselves and ask, "Who is this?" I want to say "I am a follower of Charles Manson. Are you alone?" Most of the time if they had taken the trouble to check their voice mail the mystery would have been solved without making me feel like a vulnerable fool being asked to identify myself to an anonymous caller. Worse yet, after the first call has been resolved, I get another call from the same trainee for a Darwin Award saying they got my voicemail and are responding. (They don't remember we sorted it out an hour ago.) We WON'T be pursuing a long term relationship with this intellectual giant.

TheComputerator
TheComputerator

I'll see your answering phones during a meeting and raise you answering your phone during a date -- a first date -- repeatedly. I was at a neighboring table and could overhear everything (another cell phone don't: loud talking in a public venue). These weren't rescue calls; the person was chatting about her date. If it had been me on that date with her, I'd have left in the middle of the 2nd call.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

We just tossed around the idea at the office and we've come up with the single most irritating and grossly ignorant closing comment 'uh huh'. I don't know how many times I have been talking to US clients and when ending a call I say something like "It's been great talking to you, thanks for your time (or your help), take care, I'll talk to you soon." The typical and most common reply I hear from all regions is "Uh-huh" "Thanks for your help, goodbye" > "uh-huh" "Alright, well have a great weekend we'll talk on Monday" > "Uh-huh" "Glad I could help, don't hesitate to contact me if you need anything else." > "Uh-huh" I did get one a few days back where she actually said "uh-huh...okay" ut it's not just teh phone, it's in stores, restaurants etc. "Uh-huh" is a form of saying okay, no problem, thank you, it's been wonderful having you please come again soon, I love that suit and your date's dress is fabulous, etc. Just 'uh-huh' Canadians groan over that one all the time, you say thank you and goodbye only to hear 'uh-huh'. And it's always in some ignorant sounding drawl that makes the person sound like they need to wipe the dung off their boots. Of all bad telephone or customer manners that one just takes the cake for me.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I disagree with almost all of the issues cited. Almost every one of them has a relavant reason, besides answering a cell phone during a meeting unless you KNEW you would be interrupted with a call you had expected and excuse yourself to answer it. Surrogate greetings? When too busy to change voice mail, when out on the road and just quickly checking in with reception and offering details as to yoru absence and whereabouts, one call is enough. Don't expect me to call into my voice mail, follow voice prompts, leave a message, play it back and notice a mistake, go in and change it again etc. Bugger that, especially when someone else playing Soiltaire in the office can do it for me. Auto attendants are sometimes daunting to work through when busy, driving somewhere, taking a 5 minute break in a meeting etc. Breaking a call appointment I can agree with, it is teh guy's jo in the meeting to update his VMail to let pople know he's in a meeting, that is of course unless he has soemoen else to update that greeting for him while he's in the meeting. And he should have turned off his ringer if he was embarassed to have a call while conducting business (that's not embarassing, it's just business). People failign to set up an auto attendant to zero or pound out is, in MOST cases, the telepohone installer's fault for nto activating it. Though more and more companies are now purposely disabling the feature because the first thing someone does when they hear an dauto attendant is start mashing buttons to get the receptionist to answer live. Don't want to leave a message? Call back later, it couldn't be that important. Answerign hello, well that depends if it was picked up on a general line or was taken through your direct line. If I answer the general phone line, I'll ofer the company name. if I answer my direct line, I try to use "Hi, this is XXXXX" but often answer with yeah, hello, you got me, etc. They are formal greetings for people/clients who know my direct phone number. Speakerphones REALLY drive me nuts. The best way to get around people using them is to swear when talking loudly in the background to someone, joke about some stupid customer out loud, make a rude noise, laugh out loud, play loud music etc. Be equally annoying and embarassing for them to whoemever they are speaking with, they'll soon start picking up the phone and stop playing 'Mr. too cool to answer the bloody thing properly'.

InfoSecAuditor
InfoSecAuditor

"Suppose, for example, your wife is due to deliver your child. Here are some ideas: Ignore the call, letting it go into voicemail, and then check it after the meeting or during a break." So, Calvin. How long have you been married and how many children do you have? While I agree that you should place your phone on vibrate if you're going into a meeting and your wife is about to deliver, that's one phone call I don't think any expecting father in their right mind would "ignore"...No matter how "important" your meeting at work is, family should always take precedence. Bad message to put out there, mate.

Bull City Bob
Bull City Bob

Answering the phone when someone is in your office talking to you. I came to your office to talk to you. I was there first, so wait until I am done and then retrieve the voice mail. Unless you are expecting an emergency phone call. After all, how would you feel if you were on the phone and I came in to your office and interrupted you?

ted
ted

More on use of Speakerphones... If you use your speakerphone for conference calls, PLEASE be considerate of those who work around you. If you are in open cubicles, you shouldn't be using your speaker phone there; go to a conference room where you can close the door. If you have your own office, have the courtesy to close your door if you are engaged in a conference call and are using your speakerphone. Other people don't want to participate in your teleconference meetings.

faradhi
faradhi

Unless you know the person. Ever. I hate that conversation where I get a call and the caller starts with "Who is this?" My response is always "you called me you should know." Which follows the enivatible "I saw your number on my caller ID. Why did you call me?" To which I reply, "Did I leave a message?" "No" "Well then I must have dialed the wrong number." "Oh" Or again when I worked at a front desk, all calls out of an organization would appear as the same number on caller ids. So I would get calls that went like this, "Someone called me from this number." "Well, sir/madam do you know who would call?" "No, I don't know anyone from {Company}." "Are you a student?" "No" "Have you applied?" "No, why did YOU call?" "I did not call, the call could have come from any of the 1000 students, faculty and staff." "Well WHO Called then." "I don't know, it was most likely a wrong number."... Well you get the point. Just don't do it. -edited because of that damn TR "feature" that prevents editing the subject when commenting on an article.

faradhi
faradhi

When I was in school, I worked for a selective health care college in the area as a front desk worker. One of my responsibilities was to answer the main phone number. I would answer "Thank you for calling {Insert college name here}, how may I help you." I would say 60% of the time the response would be "Is this {Insert college name}" I was always temped to say Nope. But alas, The college I went to insisted on tuition so I had to say Yes. Oooo I hated that. -edited because of that damn TR "feature" that prevents editing the subject when commenting on an article.

Shaunzy
Shaunzy

Another curse: The rambling announcement that you're not in. I have a hated vendor who's never in. I cannot use the "#" pound key to skip the message so I get one that I have to sit through until the agonizing ordeal is through. C'mon, people! Make these announcements short and sweet. Get to the point. We don't need your life story. Don't put in cutesy or humorous info if in the workplace. We don't want to listen to messages spoken in slow motion. Speak with some enthusiasm and professionalism. Most of all: Practice Makes Perfect. Review your message out loud before recording it and don't just read it off the page. We can tell.

MentorCtl
MentorCtl

Are you speaking to a business or a person? If a business is called, the phone should be answered with the business's name and (maybe) the answerer's title or name. If a person (residence) is called, "Hello!" is a courteous invitation for you to identify yourself. It is the CALLER's responsibilty to identify one's self, NOT the recipient's. Remember that a telephone is perhaps the rudest interruption invented. While Caller Identification (Caller I.D.) is available to many, please recognize that you are knocking on my door -- I have the responsibility to recognize you before opening it or conversing with you. (Maybe your time is not valuable, most people value their time and their privacy.)

wimpee
wimpee

Hate it when people record their name or greeting to make is sound as if they are actually answering. You call and the phone says "This is Larry" and you beging speaking because you believe you are actually speaking to that individual, but after a few seconds after attempting a conversation the phone says " is not available, to leave a message for This is Larry, please press 1". I let a sales person know of my feelings about this type of greeting, not sure what he thought since I did not get a call back.

dsrobinson
dsrobinson

We have a manager in our area who does #1. It annoys me to no end. The weird part about it is that it annoys *his* boss to no end as well, and yet he still does it! Clearly the bigger boss hasn't said anything to him. The smaller boss clearly does it because he feels he's more important than other people - there are other indicators of this. I'm tempted to take his phone away from him and turn it off in the next meeting we share. After all, the man has a pager, and can be reached in that way if it's an emergency. My boss has a couple of rules regarding cell phones/pagers during meetings for our group. 1) Both must be on vibrate during all meetings. 2) Pages are only to be answered during a meeting if patient care is being compromised. If you are unsure, ask your escalation point. 3) If you are in the meeting, and your escalation point isn't; your escalation point should have the pager. I realize that some of this doesn't relate to phone etiquette, but meeting etiquette is related. ^_^

GRH2112
GRH2112

I share a work area with three other techs in our company. Every morning, three of us have to listen while the fourth goes through every one of his voicemail messages on speakerphone. It's distracting and annoying when you're trying to return your own calls and answer emails with all this going on in the background.

Feral
Feral

One of my pet peeves is when a caller leaves a voicemail message with a call back number, and rattles the number off so fast it takes 2 or 3 replays to get it all.

kelly_macmillan
kelly_macmillan

Something that I find absolutely apppalling is the lack of telephone manners that callers show to me. The act of calling people, and launching into a complete sales pitch, without first enquiring whether the recipient of that call is busy, is possibly the rudest thing that someone can do. People are answering the phone because it is part of their jobs to do so. It does not mean that they have all the time in the world to cater to the caller. When calling, determine if you are barging in and interrupting the caller. Find out if it is a convenient time to chat. If not, setup an appointment to do so. Otherwise, don't expect to win any friends or influence people with your approach. K

speculatrix
speculatrix

answering with just your name is nearly as bad as just saying hello. why? when someone is making the call, they may get distracted waiting for the call to get through and it is likely they will miss the first word whilst their brain catches up. you should answer with "hello, this calvin sun speaking" or something. if you think of standard computer-computer communications protocol where there's a preamble/synchronisation phase, a standard greeting handshake (saying names) and then the data, this makes sense in human terms to: i.e. each party must make sure they have the attention of the other. likewise if you're calling across the room/office, you say the person's name and wait for recognition first!

scott
scott

A possible excuse for the "surrogate greeting:" The executive level staffer wants calls answered by a human being if at all possible, so their phone forwards to their assistant. When the assistant is out, the greeting is "to leave a message for the department director or the departmental assistant, ..." I think that's ok.

DaveinLA
DaveinLA

Another speakerphone peeve: Calling someone who has me on speakerphone, and suddenly includes another person in the conversation without alerting me to their presence beforehand. And a speakerphone alternative, if handsets cramp your style, or for calls you know will be long: Use a good quality headset. Just be sure to concentrate on the call -- the temptation to 'multitask' is greater.

bondpc
bondpc

Should be included in #6 or maybe its own #.... Surrogate greeting in a different language. I know someone who has their 'Generic' greeting in Cantonese, when everyone who calls him speaks English.

tr
tr

> Leave as quietly as possible and wait until you???re out of the room before answering.

tomdausy
tomdausy

Great article and apparently I am not to only one who is annoyed by non-professional telephone behavior. Especially the "I'm in a meeting" and "'Answering with hello" blunders Tom

bibh54
bibh54

Before getting irritated it is worth while to realize that (in personal communication at least)"hello" often only indicates that a connection has been made, and that it is up to caller, not the called, to identify himself or herself. It used to irritate me no end just to hear "hello", "pronto", "embros" (Greek), a series of numbers, etc. until I realized that conventions differ per nationality. In the Netherlands, where I live, it is normal to identify yourself by name if you are called, in other countries it is not.

Calvin T Sun
Calvin T Sun

LOL thanks for the reply. The answer: two daughters, both of whom grew up faster than I can believe. The older is 18 and leaving for college next week. Read again what I said. I never said that the only option was to ignore the call. That was only one of several possible options. If the expectant dad REALLY is concerned about timeliness, then he shouldn't be in the meeting at all. The fact that he is might indicate that he thinks he has SOME window of time to address childbirth. As I recall, in both cases my wife took many hours of labor once the dilations began lol. In other words, our daughters didn't appear instantly afterwards. But thanks for the comments, I appreciate them.

TechyEric
TechyEric

When someone answers a call while talking to me, I leave with the exact same courtesy they showed when answering calls that interrupt our conversation. In other words, if they answer in the middle of my sentence, I walk away right then and there. If they say excuse me a moment, I gave them that moment, then say "find me when you're done with that call" - if they're not already wrapping up or rescheduling the call for later. If they are wrapping up, I'll wait a wee bit longer.

dsrobinson
dsrobinson

I usually try to give people the out of saying, "Do you need to get that?" And then saying that I can catch up with them later. While the work we do is usually critical, we tend to judge things by the "who's going to die?" bar. We're a hospital organization...

mgrofchaos
mgrofchaos

In all my voicemail/answering machine messages, I say, "If you don't leave a message, then you didn't call." Noting someone called on the Caller ID doesn't mean that they really wanted to talk to you, especially if they didn't leave a message. For me, the Caller ID is used as a backup if someone leaves a message, and not their number, or the connection is bad, and I can't understand the number. If you call me, and don't leave a message, I assume that either: 1]You dialed the wrong number, or 2]You realized that you didn't need to speak to me after all. And when I run into someone who called, and expects a call back, even though they don't leave a message? I repeat: "And remember, if you don't leave a message, then you didn't call." It's been working so far. :-)

sherlockwatson
sherlockwatson

I agree, at home callers should identify themselves, and we generally let the answering machine screen calls just for that reason--so few people do that (of course 99% of the calls we get are telemarketers). At work, 'hello' is not only used to acknowledge the connection but to sound friendly...I work at a small library, so the required spiel is "Hello, this is the City of X Library, I'm Z" with or without a "how may I help you?" (which I usually leave out since getting out all that before the caller speaks is enough of a trick, and I don't know if I can help or not, LOL). The problem is many people will blurt out their name during that, or mumble it and then ask their question, if they say at all, so I am forced to ask again at the point in the conversation when I must have the name (to look up their account, etc.). The rest of the folks assume I should know who they are by the sound of their voice, so I get to feel embarrassed or annoyed when I must ask. I guess I can't win...;-) When I make a call from work, I always say "Hello, I'm Z from X Library" first thing, to put folks at ease as many are wary senior citizens wondering who on earth knows their name and number...

nyabdns
nyabdns

Nobody can invade your privacy with a telephone. That's why you have to answer it, if you don't want to, just ignore it. The phone is for your convienience, not anybody else's.

dsrobinson
dsrobinson

I got the impression this thread was for work-related calls. I always answer with "This is " at a minimum. It lets people know they dialed right, if nothing else. At home, I absolutely agree with you. I always answer "Who's this?" with "You called me." A blunt invitation to identify themselves first.

shraven
shraven

bash him with yours.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

Hi this is , I am calling from: 5-5-5 1-21-2 again, I can be reached at

Shellbot
Shellbot

or even better, the ones where even after 10 tries its impossible to get the number. I have a personal rule, 2 replays and thats it. I delete the message..if its important, they will call back. I always speak carefully and slowly when leaving my number, and i repeat it for good measure.

andy
andy

Or they mumble it, they assume that since they know it well, you should know it well also.

bruce.dimon
bruce.dimon

I agree with Feral, my #1 pet peeve is a slow talker who suddenly shifts into high gear when giving out their call-back number. Take a breath every three digits because I'm trying to write it down!

ChipPanFire
ChipPanFire

... we were trained to start our answer with "hello" or "good morningb" or other such appropriate greeting for the reasons Paul suggests. Also, it gives the hearing a chance to attune to the audio characteristics of the call before important information (such name and department) is given. In any case, I feel calls answered without a greeting are unnecessarily curt and leave a bad impression.

mjwx
mjwx

Every phone has it. It really annoys me when people don't use it in meetings (or training). Once I can forgive but people who habitually forget and they are usually the people with the worst ringtones.

LLL3
LLL3

If I call someone at home or I have their direct line then I think "Hello" is fine. But if I'm calling a business number where it's not clear in advance that no one else would be picking that line up, I really appreciate it when people identify themselves as they answer. I always say "Hi, this is Mary" when I answer my business line so people don't have to ask. When I am calling someone else, I always identify myself before asking for the person.

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

There is nothing worse than calling someone and listening to how they talk and chew their food at the same time. It's bad enough watching such people spit their food while they talk, but now you have them chewing in your ear while trying to engage in a conversation. Yes, I'm guilty of doing that, but that is because I get annoying sales calls during my lunch hour and I want to piss off the morons who are disturning me during my lunch break by obnoxiously making chewinging noises in their ears...LOL.

RNAppelt
RNAppelt

When I'm expecting a really important call, and I have a meeting, when entering or starting it, I warn all the people that I'm expecting a very important call and that I really have to answer when (if) it comes. I always end my warning with "..., all right?".

Shaunzy
Shaunzy

At my work environment, announcing my name and company ensure that the caller knows who was reached. There have been countless times where a caller will hear, "Hi, this is [Bob] with [XYZ company]; how can I help you?" only to hear the caller say, "Is this Bob?" or, "Can I spek to Bob?" These mental midgets are the same ones who leave a message for someone else - or for a different company - even after you identify yourself and your company in the pre-voicemail message. C'mon, folks! LTTFM! (Listen to the flippin' message!) Engage the brain and THEN the mouth.

Nodisalsi
Nodisalsi

It might interest the reader to know that the word HELLO may have originated in Telephone use as Edison's exclamation of surprise (that the equipment actaully worked) rather than a greeting. "Ahoy-hoy" was the traditional greeting used at that time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hello

bruce.dimon
bruce.dimon

The word, hello, was invented for the telephone as a form of acknowledging the connection. (Alexander Graham Bell actually preferred the word, ahoy.) In the old days, it was to let you know that the connection was complete. Today, it lets you know that you have waded through the menus and punched in enough extensions to actually reach a live person. There?s nothing wrong with answering ?Hello, this is John Doe.? Indeed, we should reserve the use of the word ?hello? for humans to let us know that we are finally talking to a human being.

james_palin
james_palin

I often find that answering with my name leads to the caller asking "is this.. ?". I think this is because it takes the caller a few seconds to realise the phone has been answered by a human, and that they are in fact talking to the caller. Saying "hello" can occasionally save time

MikeNaird
MikeNaird

You have a well developed appraisal of your own importance: you should learn to accord other people's needs some respect, too.

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

Either of them can call me for whatever reason and then suddenly start screaming at the kids (my nephews) while not realizing that they are screaming into the microphone on their end and straight into my already party death ears or answer another incoming call (I hate call waiting) and leave me on hold indefinitely because they forgot I am still holding on the line. I cannot tolerate it and hang up. They proceed to call me back and ask why I hung up. Duh, you are yelling into my ear and expect me to just stand there and go death or hold until you remember to switch back to my call? Call me back when you have the kids locked in a room so that you don't have to yell at them while talking to me or when you intend on not placing me on hold. Jeez...talk about disfunctional family behavior!

MikeNaird
MikeNaird

What is a hospital organization? Is it something like a hospital?

Top.Gun
Top.Gun

Your 'at home' response is fantastic. Starting now when someone calls me and asks who is speaking they will get the same line. Thanks.

crothman
crothman

Along with Shellbot, I also give my number at least twice when I leave a message (and a good time to reach me). My pet peeve is not including the area code when they leave a message for me. I guess there still must be people out there who can dial a phone number without needing the area code, but I don't know where they are! ~cr

lhowerbates
lhowerbates

...if your phone rings in my non-profit group's meetings, you are 'fined' a $5 donation to the group. Now we have much fewer interruptions of this type.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

Ahoy-hoy! on the simpsons

cubeslave
cubeslave

I believe the issue is more about people who answer a business phone with "Hello" only, as if they were at home. Aside from being unprofessional, it leaves the call unfocused, with no one really in control. Stylistically, I think of that ?Hello, this is John Doe.? greeting would be more of a direct dial/personal line greeting. If you are one person in a call group I prefer something like "Network Support this is John, how may I help you." It informs the caller and gets the conversation rolling in the right direction. Of course, I know this is a little too long and conversational for some folks. In today's the work climate today there is a kind of unspoken opinion that if you are conversational (in other words not curt bordering on rude) you aren't being efficient (read "aren't working hard enough").

jgaskell
jgaskell

The word 'Hello' pre-dates the telephone (though not by much), so it was not invented for the telephone. It did come into much more frequent usage when chosen as the standard telephone acknowledgement, though. Carry on.

crothman
crothman

And speaking of wading through menus... I am in Customer Service, so I always answer the phone using my name and dept (even internal calls--just because it shows a name on the viewscreen doesn't mean that's the person using that phone). Anyway, what gets me is after an external caller has gone through the menus, not to mention the "Thank you for calling xyz company" at the beginning of the call, they tell me they have the wrong number when I answer the phone. I will never understand it. ~cr~

ed.adams
ed.adams

I always answer my business phone with my name, unless it is during a time when we are closed and I happen to be around the phone, and I always answer my personal phones with hello. One big advantage to anwering the phone with my name is that invariably TELEMARKETERS will ask immediately for me by name, right after I have given my name. I can think of no other instance where anyone else does this, and I am sure it is because the telemarketer does not dial the number nor hear me answer the phone. I have an absolute policy of non-participation in any type of telemarketing so I am immediately into refusal mode. Anyway, it puts me immediately in charge of the telemarketer conversation, which of course exactly what they do not want. They then get one chance to bow out before I bow them out.

juliejdesmond
juliejdesmond

Just on the point of answering the phone with hello, I find I generally know the person I am calling and don't expect them to say their name when they answer or if some is calling me I'd expect they already know me, so I feel I shouldn't have to identify myself. I s'pose as I have caller i.d. on my mobile and work phone, I'll answer with hello [name] if I don't recognise the number. That's my two cents! Great article though. =o)

SmilingSheep
SmilingSheep

Everywhere I can, I use my middle name as my first name in writing, especially filling out those 'enter your name, phone number, and e-mail here so you can get this whitepaper and we'll forward this to marketing immediately' forms. I never answer with the name of the company unless I'm answering the main helpdesk line. I like to use an acronym of my department I'm in when answering my own line. Big companies, we love our acronyms. So, given my name as John Henry Doe and I work for the Redundancy Department of Redundancy, I will answer most calls with "RDoR, this is John". People asking for Henry are promptly flagged as telemarketers, and I can filter cr@p from my e-mail and snail mail just as easily. Internal callers usually know the acronym and know my first name.

cubeslave
cubeslave

I do think that when you are answering a general use line or phone split that you should at least say the name of the department you are answering for. Hangups are annoying, but if you have people that know you calling to harass you, they ought to recognize your voice anyway. I get hangups here too. I tend to chalk it up to personal calls for other people in the department. Since it is against the rules (except in an emergency) they can't ask for who they want to speak to without risk. My experience has been that most telemarketers and the like are too wrapped up in what they are doing to even notice your announcement. First there are the boneheads asking "May I speak to the head of the household?" Then the semi-aware people asking "Is this a business?" The second group at least picked up on the fact that whatever they heard when the phone as answered wasn't just "Hello." One of the reasons business tends to avoid using JUST hello is because that word frequently causes telemarketers and the like(especially the automated ones) to launch into their spiel without listening to the rest of what you say. Also, on my direct line, I can't remember the number of times they have asked to speak to me after I just answered the phone and told them my name. Depending on my mood I will either ask "What is this concerning?" (they normally think I am screening "his" calls since they normally ask to speak to me again), or I will offer to take a message, or say "What number were you dialing?... I'm sorry he is no longer available at this number..."

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

because I have odd hangup calls sometimes, don't know if someone harassing me, ex gal friend, ex-gal friends child of mine I don't know about, someone I lit up and ticked off, who wants to see if I'm in the office :) etc. So if I just say hello they don't get my name for free. They should know who they are calling already as someone else mentioned. If they don't they are phishing for names. I don't consider it rude. I do consider it rude if they hang up after I say my name, and a 'nothing' call, maybe a telemarketer if they don't. Your security is more important than someone who doesn't know phone etiquette. That said, in certain depts/ places you may want to answer with your name, e.g. tech support for outside callers.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

In fact pass on your number I can always use a few loud tunes in the day. I remember one guy I called try to play smart arse and put me on hold indefinitely. I threw it on speakerphone and started doing other work while listenign to music. He picke dup a good 20 minutes later, while I know his phone had kept ringing back to his extension and he had to keep stuffing it on hold the whole time, I just asked him to put me back on hold so I could hear the rock trivia answers. He actually did put me back on hold and, when he picked up just a few minutes later, I told him I had to run for lunch but would call him some other time, which I never did. No time for losers, I'll just find his competitors and work to help them instead.

zclayton2
zclayton2

about 20 years ago I was working a phone desk and got "Please Hold" from a voice on the other end of the line and then dead space. I hung up, as it was an 800-hotline for emergencies. This repeated twice. The third time the voice said exasperatedly, "This is Senator Glenn's office, Please hold for him!" Okay, now I know why the actual person didn't dial, but it didn't excuse her lack of phone ettiquette of failure to identify or even to wait for a response on an emergency response line during an emergency. Senator Glenn was actually quite nice to talk to.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

Ah, nothing like directing the call to my headphones.

rob_cranfill
rob_cranfill

Where I work we have a policy of *not* answering by name (or by the name of our group, organization, or company) because whoever is calling should already know who they are looking for, and we don't really want to help anyone who is "fishing" for a name or department. Either they know who/what they are looking for, or we don't want to talk to them. I guess this would be different for a more customer support-type of organization. - rob