I got a call on my cell phone the other day from a number I didn’t recognize. Usually if I don’t know the number I don’t answer. It if was important they will leave a message. If it wasn’t, they don’t. It’s an easy enough concept to follow I think. And more to the point, 99% of the people I want to communicate with are in my contacts list anyway, so those unknown numbers calling me once in a while are usually solicitors or wrong numbers.
I’m always kind of dazed by the amount of phone etiquette people don’t possess these days. I wasn’t really “taught” how to talk on the phone, but my parents lead by example. You say hello, you are polite, you speak clearly, and you don’t call people between certain hours. But these days it seems like these things have gone by the wayside and I generally dislike speaking to people on the phone because of it. They don’t enunciate, they mumble, the background noise is abhorrent, and they call you at inappropriate times. Rude.
But back to the phone call I got. It was late evening and my cell rang. The area code was local so I figured, all things considered, it might be best to answer.
Them: Hello, who is this?
Me: Uh, you called me. You don’t know who you called?
Them: Wrong number then. *click*
Really? “Hello, who is this?” You mean you have no idea who you just called? You just…picked up your phone, dialed a number, and wondered who you’d get? Like…really? A more polite conversation may have gone, “Hello, I was calling for So-and-so, to whom am I speaking?” not “Who are you?” To top it all off, she had this blunt tone of voice that irritated me right from the off. And to be frank, I’m not going to go giving my name to some stranger that randomly calls me out of the blue. That seems less than smart, because now they know my name and my cell number.
Maybe I am easily annoyed, but it’s a pet peeve of mine when someone calls you, but then acts like you called them. Like when they call you, and then ask to put you on hold. Hey, if I call you and you need a second to wrap something up, it’s totally cool if you put me on hold for a few minutes. But if you call me and then ask to put me on hold, no freakin’ way. Don’t call me unless you have the time to talk, and don’t waste my time otherwise.
It’s just a whole huge can of worms. Like when people call you but then don’t seem interested in really talking, and there are a lot of long awkward silences and you can’t help but be irritated with them. Why’d you call if you didn’t have anything to talk about? Or people who call you when they’re busy, or when it’s really noisy, or when they shouldn’t really be on the phone. Or people who call you and then proceed to carry out conversations with people around them on their end of the line, right over the top of you.
There’s a real breakdown in social etiquette I think. At least when it comes to phone conversations. I prefer text messaging. It’s quicker than a phone call and way less intrusive. You have to answer a phone when it rings. You don’t have to answer a text until you have the time. Texting is also silent. You don’t have to annoy everyone around you with a conversation they would rather not hear. You can text in places where a conversation may be considered rude or disrespectful (classrooms, the doctor’s office, a funeral…)
I think part of it may be that a phone call dehumanizes the people on either end of the line a little bit. You’re talking to a phone, not a real person, or so it feels like. Texting doesn’t fix that of course, but I would love it if people would pluck up the grace to be a bit more polite on the phone.