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Yesterday, on the radio, the announcer shared an amusing list of cliches used in North American television shows & movies that sometimes cause confusion in other parts of the world. Some of these included:

  • how there’s an obsession with Hallowe’en – like neighbours competing to outdo each other’s Hallowe’en decorations;
  • how high school prom is hyped, as if prom was somehow a life-changing milestone – mine sucked but it didn’t “ruin” my life;
  • how baseball bats are conveniently stored next to doors in the event of a threat – are we really that paranoid or do we have ESP;
  • how everyone seems to eat meatloaf – eww…..; and finally…
  • how everyone ends telephone conversations without saying “goodbye”.

I chuckled along with the long list, but it was the last one that really caught my attention.

Not only do I always say goodbye at the end of a call, but if it’s a family member or close friend, I say “Love you” as well. We don’t have the foreknowledge that this is the last conversation we will even have, and so I want to be sure that very important message is conveyed. Sadly, on occasion, I have become so accustomed to saying it, I have blurted “Love you” to non-family members/close friends. I’m not sure who was more embarrassed. It was probably me!

Turns out I have a few pet peeves when it comes to starting and ending telephone conversations:

First, I hate it when I answer the telephone and the caller assumes I know who they are and they launch into the conversation as if I’m already fully up to speed with why they are calling. They are halfway through their spiel and I’m still trying to figure out the voice. By the time I figure it out, or interrupt them to ask, I’ve missed the context entirely. It’s worse with a voicemail message because I can’t ask questions, like why are you telling me this random-person-I-don’t-know, has died?”.

It’s almost as bad when they use “it’s me” and they aren’t someone I speak to regularly.

 I’m against all “it’s me”s. So self-absorbed and egotistical. It’s like these hip musicians with their complicated shoes!
– George Costanza, Seinfeld, “The Burning” episode

Second, I get annoyed by people who sound annoyed at me because I didn’t answer their earlier call. I feel accused of purposely avoiding their call, and waves of guilt threaten to wash over me. How dare I have to use the bathroom or dare to leave my home to restock the pantry? Listen, I’ve ranted on this one before, and the message is the same as that blog post: Please Leave a Message…  I’d like to add: Get over yourself!

Third, if you ask someone “how are you”, for goodness’ sake, shut up and listen to the answer before launching into your pressing business. Usually the answer is “good” and that’s okay. But when you respond “great” as I’m still saying “good”, I’m not good anymore. Suddenly it’s no longer a friendly chat between 2 people. You just want something from me before you move on to something or someone better. That extra 5 seconds matters because I matter.

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening
to what another has to say.      – Bryant H. McGill

And finally, I have someone who tends to end calls with “let you go”, which seems to signal the end of the call with courtesy. The connotation may be “I understand you have other things to do so I will graciously hang up so you can get back to it”. But it feels dismissive…especially when I’m still talking, blunt when blurted out in a conversation that isn’t winding down, and rude when it’s followed by a click and silence. In this case, “silence isn’t golden” because you essentially hung up on me.

We bless people and we curse them by the way we speak to them or treat them. Sometimes we use words.

Closing a call is not a skill limited to salespeople…or good salespeople.  Try “thanks”, “talk to you soon”, or “take care” – followed by “BYE”. If you have to connect with someone else and get back to them, say so! Followed by “BYE”. If you can’t talk long or you’re busy and can’t talk at all, take the 30 seconds to explain, let them know when you can talk, and follow it with “BYE”.  Other acceptable final words are: “good-bye”, “bye-bye”, or “good-night”.

keep calm and show some respect (2)

It’s simple. 🙂

Hello. It’s Jenn. I just wanted to say thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week! Bye for now!