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Hello, who?s calling?

It was one of those bad hair days when nothing seemed to go right. The flat tyre, the delays, the race to make it to assignment...

india Updated: Aug 23, 2006 14:48 IST
Sujata B Shakeel
Sujata B Shakeel

It was one of those bad hair days when nothing seemed to go right. The flat tyre, the delays, the race to make it to an assignment on time, and the ebbing energy levels, thanks to Delhi’s sultry weather.

So not without some trepidation did I step into the cool confines of the office, expecting some annoyance to mar my happiness for the rest of the day. I did not have to wait long! The bell (in this instance the shrill ring of the phone) tolled for me.

Forcing a smile in my voice I said “Hello” only to be rudely asked, “ Who’s calling?” With all the patience I could muster at that moment I gently reminded the caller, “ It’s not me who’s calling it’s you!” Unmoved by the folly of her remark, the young lady proceeded in her high-pitched tone “ I want to speak to Sujata Shakeel. “This is Sujata and who may I know is on the line?” I asked, beginning to feel my frayed nerves give way.

But the identity of the caller was to remain a mystery for a while longer as the lady in question assaulted my nerves with “ Hiiiii…Sujataaa. I sent you a release on a new biscuit that’s been launched. Did you get it?” “No I didn’t,” I answered before proceeding to ask her in my most ‘friendly’ tone “Do I know you? Have we met before?” “No, actually this is the first time I’m calling you!” “Then it makes sense, doesn’t it to prefix your query with a polite Ma’am, since you have not been invited to be on first–name terms.

“Oh, but you don’t sound so old!,” she trilled. “And anyways these days everyone addresses each other by their names only,” the young lady ploughed on before my “so, do you also address your mother by her name?” halted her in her tracks. The conversation ended abruptly with me none too wiser about her name. So has technology made us rude?

We cannot afford to be rude if we want to successfully forge relationships, professional and social. Basic telephone etiquette requires that after a polite greeting we first identify ourselves and then state our purpose. And always be sure to add a ‘sir’ or a ‘ma’am’ unless you are calling a friend.

Be patient and hear the person out before carrying on and on about your purpose. Being respectful does not harm. Remember, no matter how busy a person is, a friendly, respectful voice will never go unanswered.

First Published: Aug 23, 2006 14:48 IST