Monday, August 6, 2007

Ladies Finishing School- Sticky Stituations


Directing anger at telephone solicitors is about as constructive as throwing the phone across the room. Take steps to stop telephone solicitations. First ask that your name be removed from the calling list, which with caller is bound to do by law. Another measure is to sign up for the “do not call” registry in your state. If a solicitor won’t take no for an answer, be firm. Just don’t slam down the phone.

If you frequently get wrong numbers, discuss the problem with your phone company. The cause may be a typo in the phone book. The ultimate solution is to request a new phone number, but if all the mistaken calls seem to be connected to the wrong voice, you may want to try letting your answering machine take over for a week.

The easiest way to deal with nuisance calls is to let your answering machine do the work. Prank-callers are quickly discouraged when they can’t reach an actual human being. Every telephone company has a department that deals with nuisance callers and other offenses. Call them and describe your problem. They have resources to help you.

Answering Machines and Voice Mail

When recording a greeting, keep it short. There’s also no need to say, “We can’t come to the phone right now,” which the caller has surmised. The simpler, the better. You may leave or name, or if you prefer not to, leave your phone number in its place. “This is Sara Smith. (Or “You have reached 555-555-5555.”) Please leave you name, number, and message, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”

When leaving a message on someone else’s machine, state your name and number first then keep your message brief.

Return calls on your machine within 24 hours. If you reach a machine when calling back, lessen the potential for phone tag, but stating when you can be reached and where.

Caller ID

Notify friends and family that you have Caller ID. Tell them how it works and what features it has. Doing so will eliminate hurt feeling and embarrassment in the future.

It is acceptable to call friends back even if they fail to leave a message. Just let her know you saw the Caller ID unit that they called.

It is all right to answer the phone, “Hi Scott,” but tell the caller you have Caller ID because they may be surprised!

If you don’t recognize and name and number on the Caller ID box, don’t call the person back! If someone tracks you down after an errant call or failure to leave a message, common sense should prevail. IF someone calls to ask you why you called, just tell the truth.

Call Waiting

I personally dislike call waiting. I find the concept incredibly rude, and I personally do not use it. To me, it sends the message that the person you’re talking to may not be as interesting or as important as who is calling on the other line. Our phone plan includes it, but when if I hear “the beep,” I let the call go to voice mail. I will concede that in emergency situations it can be helpful.

Emily Post, however, offers some tips when you encounter call waiting:

If you feel insulted when your phonemate asks, “Do you mind if I see who this is?” your impulse might be to say, “Yes, I do mind!” It’s better to say, “Go ahead,” then wait. If more than ninety seconds pass, it’s fine to hang up. When you’re eventually reconnected with you phonemate, try not to betray your annoyance. Politely say that you were unable to hold, and leave it at that, even though the person should have returned to you more quickly.

When your own call waiting feature signals, apologize to your phonemate and say you’ll immediately return; put her on hold and explain to the other caller that you’ll have to call back. Try your best to keep a conversation from starting; your responsibility is to the first caller, who should never be left on hold for more than twenty seconds.

There are some exceptions to the rule. If you’re expecting an urgent or long-distance call, tell your phonemate at the outset. “If so-and-so calls, I’ll have to take the call and get back to you.” When the call comes in, arrange a time to call your phonemate back—then do so! Alerting an unexpected caller that you’re waiting for an important call will keep her from feeling brushed off.

An alternative to call waiting is home voice mail, which enables you to keep talking while an incoming call is picked up as a message. When you hang up, you can retrieve the message.

Other interruptions

If you’re on the phone and the doorbell rings, naturally you’ll tell your phonemate that you must answer the door, just as you’ll welcome your neighbor. If the call is important, explain to your neighbor that you’ll have to finish it. Otherwise, don’t continue the chat while the visitor tried to occupy herself. Tell your phonemate, “So-and-so just dropped by, can I call you back?” Then be sure to return the call as soon as you can.

Occasionally a phone call in progress is disconnected; it is the caller’s responsibility to call back. If you initiated the call, immediately redial the person you were talking with and apologize. If a bad connection or static on the line makes it difficult to hear, you can ask the person to hang up so you can try again.

If you’re the one who was called and a mechanical glitch or disconnection occurs, stay off the line. Don’t hesitate to phone the person if he hasn’t called back within a few minutes. Say something like, “I’m not sure why the phone went dead, but I just wanted to make sure we didn’t have anything else to discuss.” This draws the call to a proper close.

Six Phone-Call Faux Pas

  1. Talking to someone else.
  2. Busying yourself with other things.
  3. Eating.
  4. Chewing gum.
  5. Sneezing or coughing into the receiver.
  6. Laying down the receiver with a bang.


  1. Hi Courtney:

    I'm guilty of leaving messages that are too long on people's voice mail or answering machine. I need to be more succinct.

    Also, it's helpful to know that the person who called is responsible for calling back if there is an accidental disconnection. I've had experiences where both parties (me being one of the parties) tried to call back at the same time. Of course, all we accomplished was to get busy signals.

    Thanks for the phone tips.