Monday, September 01, 2008

Telephone etiquette

I have been pondering this post for a number of weeks now. (By that I of course mean that I keep forgetting to write it). Its been motivated by a noticeable change in telephone etiquette since arriving Down Under.

It seems that in the Land of the Oz everyone sees a ringing telephone as something that *must be answered*. While this may immediately seem like a good thing - yay, responsiveness and all that - I have to explain that actually its a lose/lose situation.

Imagine you are on the phone to someone and their mobile rings... no matter how important, enthralling or brief your own conversation, they will pick up the other phone too.

Now imagine you are calling someone who (unbeknownst to you) is already on the other line to someone else... they will pick up the phone to you and say "I can't speak right now, can I call you back?" You are left feeling bad for interrupting AND wondering why they answered in the first place (obviously they would have made themselves available, for the right incoming call - you just didn't make the grade).

Phones are routinely taken into meetings (and answered!!!). If you are sitting helping a colleague with a quick question and their desk phone rings they will answer it... because apparently the incoming call is more important than the two minutes of your time they just begged.

Because people find themselves juggling two conversations at once (sometimes answering their second phone without asking permission of the person on the first phone) its unclear who is talking to whom. Its not even unusual to have your call answered with; "Can I call you back?". No hello, no nothing!!

I would like to issue this plea to the people of Australia. Turn on your voicemail and leave the phone to ring. Owning a telephone does not make you at the beck and call of whoever calls, whenever they call. If its not a good time, leave it to ring.

Grrrrrr!!! Rant over.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

couldnt agree with you more on this - though it's not just an ozzie thing

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