Friday, August 12, 2011

Telephone etiquette

I hate talking on the phone. If you can do it online or via email, please let's. I especially loathe receiving "blind" calls, where you don't have any context. There is a lot of waffling and nicety that you have to wade through before the caller usually gets to the crux of the matter, which is inevitably going to require a follow up email or letter (especially in a work context). 

Of course, one of the best things about the Dutch is that they are so good at getting to the point, but this is negated by the fact that our dealings are in English, their second language. Which admittedly is much, much better than if we were doing this transaction in my foreign tongue, but that's not the point here.

The point is that any call is usually a frustrating process as we try to spell things phonetically. They can't understand my pronunciation and there is always the confusion between the wonderful vowels. 

In English, a = ay; e = eee and i = eye. 
In Dutch a = ah, e = ay and i = eee. 
You can see where the problem comes in, right? 

"Okay, Meneer Fokker, you have convinced me to sign up to your mailing list for cheap bike deals. My name is Koekie, Kay-oh-ee-kay-eye-ee."
"No. Kilo, October, Echo, Kilo, India, Echo. We haven't even gotten to my surname yet, which is Flamiefaejihg."

Also, if I see a call coming from a blocked number to my mobile, I am not going to answer. Okay, I can't do this at work, but in my personal life, it's a general policy. 

So now you know not to take it personally, because I realise this can offend friends and family. But I have received far too many "blocked" calls from unsolicited credit card/insurance/telecom providers, who chose to hide their calling details - and for good reason. So now I do not answer if I don't know who's calling. 

Based on the fact that the unrecognised number is not saved on my address book, I probably don't want to be speaking to you. If you've chosen to keep your mobile number hidden for personal reasons, I can respect that. Just don't cry to me when I don't immediately guess that it's someone I know and probably wouldn't mind speaking to.

So I have ignored your blocked number and you are now required to leave a message, how about adding a bit of context? Voice message protocol - if we don't have a personal relationship or previous communication, leaving your name and number is not enough to entice me to call you back. 

"Hi Kate, this is Tim. Please can you call me on oh-six-five-five-four-four-three-three-two-one?"

Yes I could, in theory, call you back. But I'm not going to. Because I don't know you. I don't know who you work for and I don't know what it's regarding. Based what you have not provided, I am going to extrapolate that you already knew if you had divulged this information, I wouldn't want to talk to you anyway. 

If it's that important you can call back - and this time, leave me a message, so that I can make a more informed decision as to why I won't be returning your call. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My favourite game at the moment is "listening to the voice of the telesales caller and not responding as they ramble on until they suddenly realise there is an ominous silence on the other end of the line" - then it is just "hullo? hullo? hullo? clunk!!" End of game......