Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Telephone Etiquette

People without the common courtesy to return phone calls are not coming on the ark.

            This drives me crazy, especially in business.  When I call a business contact, I leave a very comprehensive message explaining who I am, what I am calling about, and how I can be reached.  I leave specifics so that when you do return my call we are further along and can move more quickly.  I am not one for leaving only my name and number and leaving you guessing who I am, and what I want. That just results in an unproductive volley of phone tag.  If I am requesting information, I describe the specific information I am looking for and leave a number, a mailing address and an e-mail address so that you can forward that information in a timely manner.  If I am requesting a meeting, I explain the nature of the meeting I am hoping to schedule, leave a few potential times and dates, and again, I provide a few different ways to reach me.
            Why is it then that very often I am calling the same business contact over and over again without any response at all?  I get it, you are busy; we all are.  And while you readers are thinking it, no I am not in sales.  If I were that might explain the lack of response (although it would still be rude), but I am not, so I see only one explanation.  These people who don’t return my calls are simply too self important, feeling that their time is too precious to bother with common courtesy.  Well here is some news for you, you aren’t that special.  There are plenty of rude and unprofessional people just like you.  I have to track them down day after day.
            All I am asking is that you pick up the damn phone, or type off a simple e-mail; you can even have your assistant do it, but please get back to me.  It is not a lot to ask.
When I ran my own business, I had solicitations from many different people.  Some wanted to hire me, some wanted to sell me something and some wanted informational interviews, in essence those people wanted me to spend my valuable time teaching them something they felt I knew and from which they could learn.  Sometimes I was slow and I could accommodate those types of requests, and other times I was just too busy.  But every single time, I returned the phone call and gave the individual on the other end the respect of a timely response.
            For those of you who are etiquettely challenged, in business it is expected that you will return a phone call or e-mail within two business days. Although I leave very comprehensive messages, not everyone does and so you don’t necessarily know what you are jeopardizing by not showing respect to your callers.  Recently, I contacted a company because I wanted to pick the owner’s brain about a venture I am undertaking.  This person started a company doing exactly what I wanted to do and I left him a message stating I would really love to have a few minutes of his time to ask him some questions.  I expressed that I was not in an area that would compete with his business and I even offered to pay him a consulting fee.  Not only has he not responded to two separate messages, but also a woman in his company who I was able to reach, has been stringing me on for a meeting for over a month.  In that time, I have learned much of the information I was after, from other sources.  I am in a different place now, and will soon be in the market to purchase some of his wares for my own establishment.  But because he did not bother to return my calls, I am going to his smaller, but far more professional and accommodating competitor.  I feel really good about that.  Business karma.

So when the flood comes, if you are one of those people who can’t be bothered to return calls that don’t interest you, please leave a message at the tone, and I will respond to your request for admittance on the ark in the same timely manner with which you responded to me. 


  1. I'd like to thank you for leaving informative messages: I work unconventional hours, so I am often getting business calls when I am not working. It is irritating how many people just state their name and number (if they aren't saying it so fast I can't understand it!) leaving me to guess the reason for their call and how much time I will need to return it! And Kudos to you for your one-woman fight to make a the world a more polite place!

  2. So true! Or the people that "pretend" they never get a text. I am available on many differnt social media platforms; there is no excuse not to get back to me. . . excpet laziness and poor manners!!

    You totally speak my language!!

  3. I am dealing with this issue right now. My husband and I sent a reservation request to a bed and breakfast nearly a week ago and still haven't heard if we got the room. We even e-mailed to make sure (since we're going next week), but so far all we got is silence! Really frustrating, I understand.

  4. I've been trying to get a paving contractor to call me back for a month to give me a quote on paving my driveway. I want to give him MONEY to do WORK. He won't call me back. He won't be getting my MONEY now even if he does call. And I see that he won't be on the ark. Poor bastard.

  5. Joey,

    That is the most annoying isn't it! You want to pay them and they still can't be bothered to exhibit common courtesy. Forget a decent upbringing doesn't greed at least motivate them to behave appropriately. Guess not and unfortunately you are not the first to experience this.