Why Bother With Phone Etiquette?
I grew up in an era of landlines and party lines. When answering the telephone at our house, my siblings and I were taught to say, “Maceks, this is ___________ speaking. How can I help you?” Manners mattered greatly to both Mom and Dad. Besides saying, “excuse” me when we burped, “please,” when we needed something, and “thank you” upon receiving it, establishing good behavior in the household also included teaching all of us youngsters the basics of phone etiquette.
Telephones used to be stationary. To stay connected to the person you were talking to on the phone, you could not go beyond the reach of the phone cord. One of my grandmothers had a specific place in her house for her phone. It sat in an alcove in her hallway. She kept a stool there as well and when the phone rang, if it wasn’t a salesman, she sat down. Whatever else she was doing, scrubbing her kitchen floor, washing the dishes or watching television, fell by the wayside while she communicated with the person on the phone. If it was not a good time for her to talk, she would politely say to the caller, “Can I call you back? I am right in the middle of taking cookies out of the oven.”
Of course nowadays, wherever we go we go there with our phones. We are no longer limited to the length of a phone cord. Of course it is convenient to talk on the phone while we are driving, walking, cooking, eating, or working on our computers, but is it necessary?
Though I was raised with telephone etiquette, I am just as guilty as anyone else at multitasking while talking on the phone. When a friend called the other morning, I was making my breakfast. She thought I was doing the dishes and I was embarrassed when she said, “I will let you get on with your day.” It was obvious to her I was too busy to set aside whatever I was doing to give my attention to her and our conversation. Like my grandma, I could have said, “Can I call you back?”
I know I get a little miffed when I hear the clicking sound of computer keys in the background when talking with one of my girlfriends. Another friend likes to call me when she is driving. Her voice sounds as though she is inside a tin can and of course, there is the distraction of traffic. At a particular store in town there is a sign at the cash register that reads, “Finish your phone conversation, then I will help you.” Clerks do not want our phone conversation in their faces while they are trying to converse with us as well.
Why Bother With Phone Etiquette? It is worth it to be courteous and thoughtful when using our phones. Think about how much we like it when someone pays close attention to us when we are talking. Now let’s do the same for them.