Thursday, December 29, 2005

I'd like to teach the world to sing!

Or at least how to talk. On the phone

It has come to my attention, for somewhat obvious reasons, that many of the people of this country, and our friendly neighbors to the north, do not know how to properly communicate on the phone. Now who am I to say this, being that I've been chastised on numerous occasions for my phone etiquette? Well at my worst, I still seem to be above average, and I dare say, I've learned a few things along the way.

Now I don't really want to write about the topics of conversation people have with each other, as I really could care less. I also am not presently interested in how people initiate phone conversations, as they seem to do well enough to drive up our nations land and cellular phone bills to a more than adequate level. My topic for today is how to answer phones, especially with people you don't know. If you want to use your own private language with your closest friends and relatives, please do, but when you're dealing with the rest of us, perhaps we should have some guidelines

Let's start this little manual with the basics. First, you must pick up the phone. This is done by removing the handset from your phone and placing it on your head, preferably in a position where the earpiece is close to your ear and the microphone is at least pointed towards your mouth. In the case of cellular telephones, you'll probably have to press a button of some kind. Please, after pressing that button, don't press any more because the person on the other end may be presented with painful tones. You should also avoid fumbling with the phone after picking it up, because this can also generate loud noises rendering the opposing party deaf or auditorilly injured for some time.

The next, and crucial part of this procedure is the greeting. A number of greetings will do, but it is nice to have one. "Who dis" is not really the most friendly of ones available. Usually a "hello" or "hi" is best, but you may choose to use the less popular, "greetings." Also, please speak with sufficient volume to be heard. Yelling, however, is not necessary. If you hear silence on the other end of the line, this could indicate a couple of things. The most likely is that the person that is calling you is using an autodialer, and may not yet be aware that you have picked up the phone. Your choices at this juncture are to hang up, as it is likely someone that wants your money or information, or to remain on the line and find out who it is. If you choose to hang up, they'll probably just call back, so you may as well remain on the line if you can, and resolve this issue. It would probably be in your best interest to listen to at least the first line of their spiel so you'll know who they are. If they're not someone you want to talk with, you can then just tell them to "take me off your list." This, as provided by the fine laws governing our society, should ensure your removal within some small amount of time. Other variations may also work, but cursing and such are not likely to assist you in achieving your aim.

Now we'll move on to who should be answering your phone. It may be in your best interests to restrict phone answering to those that can actually respond to at least some spoken language, preferably English. You may think your children sound cute calling everyone that calls "mommy" or "daddy," but you are the only one. Also, if you could refrain from having your children make your answering machine messages, that would be great.

OK, now how do you respond to people that are asking for a particular person? Well you can say that you are that person, simply by stating "this is he" or "this is she" depending on your gender preference. Saying "Yes" doesn't necessarily provide the caller with the correct information, as far too many people say yes to everything, except maybe sex. Saying "yes" to every question asked inspires very low confidence in you and your comprehension.

If the person asked for is not there, you have a number of options. You could let them know they aren't there, and perhaps ask if you could take a message. If you do let the caller know the requested person isn't there, please don't then ask who it is before again saying that they aren't there. The caller probably remembers the first time you said that, and doesn't need the reiteration. It also makes them question the validity of your statement. If the caller said they were the president of your country, would the person be there then, or would they then be hiding behind the toilet?

There is one more point I must make. If you speak in quiet gasps or moans, don't expect to be understood. Please at least make some attempt to annunciate and be heard. I'm not a doctor and I'm not going to cure whatever illness exists in your body.

Well that's about enough of these. Go forth and sing, or at least speak!

Images courtesy of google image search, from,, and

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