This morning the phone rang, that in itself was a surprise since I am now more accustomed to hearing the little beep that signals an email message or a text has arrived as opposed to the sound of my phone ringing.
I used to welcome phone calls because they meant I was about to be connected to a person. As an extrovert, I love connecting with other people. Yahoo, someone from the outside world wants to talk to me.
All that has changed, and I realized just how much this morning. As I glanced at my caller ID, I saw that the call was coming from my dentist's office. I have an appointment in a few days so I immediately thought, "This is a reminder call." Something in my brain added, "Oh yes, it is one of those automated messages." So I picked up the phone and waited to hear a recording that would tell me the date and time of my appointment. Nothing happened. Silence. Then a woman's voice tentatively said, "Hello?" Oh my gosh, it was a real live person calling me.
Needless to say, I was more than a little embarrassed. Fortunately for me, the woman calling with a reminder had a delightful sense of humor. When I explained why I had answered without so much as a "hello," we both started to laugh. She assured me that this dental office does not use automated calls. How refreshing.
At the same time, how sad. How sad that we have come to expect recordings, text messages and emails and that when we hear the voice of a real live person, we are surprised or even shocked. We are rapidly removing all that is personal from our communication with other people. We take for granted, as I did today, that we are not going to have that "live" experience with another human being.
Technology has us on auto-pilot. While it may save time and money to use automation, what has it done to our ability to build relationships? Ultimately what is the price we will pay for distancing ourselves from other people? Are we now programmed to be programmed?
By the way, I could have avoided the embarrassment of that moment when I simply picked up the phone and listened if I had followed my own business etiquette advice.
First: When you answer the phone, alway, always, always give a greeting followed by your name.
Second: Never make assumptious based on caller ID. The person on the other end of the line may be someone else all together from the name you see on your phone or screen.
To sum this up, use professional courtesy when answering the phone. Your reputation and success depend on it. Don't let technology put you on auto-pilot.
Here's to your professional courtesy,
LydiaLydia Ramsey is a Savannah based business etiquette expert, professional speaker and author of MANNERS THAT SELL. For more information about her programs and products, call her at 912-598-9812 or visit her web site: