Jun 29, 2010

Lack of phone etiquette

I've been getting more annoyed than usual by poor phone etiquette in China. Here are two things that people could do to cure the majority of the phone etiquette problems I've experienced:

1. Leave a voicemail message

I often find that I have voicemail messages waiting for me after having been away from my phone for a while. However, ninety percent of the time, I check my voicemail box only to hear complete silence, or the sound of someone hanging up right away. Sometimes I'll have a half dozen messages of just the [click] sound of someone hanging up.

This happens with people from all walks of life. Off the top of my head, I've had the voicemail problem with:
  • highly educated job candidates
  • people delivering fast food lunches to me
  • package delivery workers
  • colleagues and friends of mine
Through the wonders of caller ID and other tools, you can figure out which slacker is messing up your voicemail box.

Leave a flippin' voicemail message for me, that's what it's there for. It seems like the only people who leave voicemails for me are people calling from the US.

2. Announce who you are when you call

Tell me who you are when you're calling me. This is a big thing with me. I don't have ESP.

It's one thing if your good friend calls and says, "Hey, what up bro?" You know the voice, so he doesn't need to say, "This is Bob, what's up?". It's a different thing all together when a complete stranger calls and doesn't announce who he is.

I have at least three calls a week to my cell phone in China that go like this:

Caller: "Wei?" (Hello)
Me: "Ni hao." (Hello)

[At this point, I'm waiting for the caller to introduce himself.]

Caller: "Wei?" (Hello)
Me: "Ni hao." (Hello)

[Now I'm mildly annoyed, but I'm willing to give it another shot.]

"Wei?" (Hello)
Me: "Ni hao." (Hello)

[The Wei - Ni hao routine has to happen three times, for some reason. Always three times.]

Caller: "Ni shi Eric ma?" (Is this Eric?)
Me: "Qing wen, ni shi shei?" (Can I ask who's speaking?)

[The guy is calling me, so he knows who I am. He needs to tell me who he is.]

Caller: "Ni shi Eric ma?" (Is this Eric?)

[Many times, I hang up the phone right here. I can only tolerate poor manners for so long. Do I want to do business with someone that has social interaction skills that are this bad?]

Me: "Qing wen, ni shi shei?" (Can I ask who's speaking?)
Caller: "Wo shi ..." (Finally he introduces himself.)
When you call a stranger or a customer, you need to say right off the bat who you are and who you'd like to speak with.

For example:
"Hi, this is George Costanza from Vandelay Industries, calling to speak with Mr. Smith about his order for latex."
The once sentence contains it all: his name, where he's from, who he'd like to speak with, and what he's calling about. One sentence, and you know exactly what the person on the other end of the line wants. This is the guy I want to do business with. This is who I'd want to be my latex salesman.

I hope that some of the mouth-breathing recruiters and salespeople that waste my time on the phone get a glance at my advice here and can step up their phone manners.

My third annoyance is all those junk text messages from pizza parlors, discount sushi outfits, and credit cards that I get all day long on my cell phone. Is there a way to unsubscribe from those like there is for email lists?


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