I Do Not Feel Ashamed: A Rant on Phone Etiquette

I am really tired. Like, “moved over the weekend, didn’t sleep well in the new place, down by two assistants at work but not fewer people to assist” tired. I spent twenty minutes looking for my deodorant this morning. It was on the stove. We’ve all been there. This fatigue is making it difficult for me to not be a huge bitch to every person who calls and doesn’t have it together. I appreciate that people have to make phone calls for their jobs. It’s part of life. We’re in a tough economy, emails feel impersonal, and cold calls can (theoretically) result in great business successes.

However, making a business phone call requires a modicum of etiquette. I answer phones day in and day out. If you are asked where you are calling from, what your name is, for whom you are calling, etc., succinct answers are required. “He’ll know” is not one of those answers. You think my boss knows you and he very well may, but if I call in and say, “Uh, hey…..Bob Loblaw is on the line…he says you know him,” and he does not know you, not only will you not get through, I will be yelled at. I don’t want to be yelled at. You want to get through. Now we’re both unhappy.

Conversely, if you are willing to answer all questions about yourself freely, but have no idea with whom you should be speaking or perhaps why you should be speaking with them, this is not better. HR does not handle computers. The controller is not in charge of staffing. Samantha Jones hasn’t worked here in four years. If you don’t know the name of the person you are looking for, it’s very unlikely he or she will want to take your call.

In terms of cold calls: I have endless respect. My personal fear of bothering people mingled with a self-fulfilling prophetic fear of rejection has always kept me from cold calling anyone. You are braver than I. You will get what you want in life faster. But if you are calling about a summer internship and ask for the CEO of my company, you will not be getting it today. Why would you, a college sophomore, think that the CEO of a multibillion dollar hedge fund would arrange his own company’s internships? Your professors should slap either you or themselves, depending on whose idea that was.

Lastly, if you have interviewed for a position and not gotten it or not received an answer, calling and harassing the person answering the phone will not help you get the job, nor the answers you seek, but your inclination to do so should tell you everything you need to know.


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