Bad Manners and Brimstone

General Etiquette => The Work Day => Topic started by: violinp on February 14, 2020, 05:10:55 pm

Title: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: violinp on February 14, 2020, 05:10:55 pm
So, part of my job involves answering the phone and helping people over the phone with buying tickets for movies, explaining how our theater works with all the dine - in and what not, explaining movie plots...you name it, I've probably been asked to help with it.

But. It always throws me off when the person who has called me asks me "How are you doing today, violinp?" (I have to give my name when they call) To me, it feels super - intrusive, and is not relevant to anything in this interaction. It's business, and the guest isn't supposed to care about me. Yes, I know we're all people and we're supposed to care about each other (and if I were on the guest side of things, I would go out of my way to be polite and such to an employee of such an establishment). However, it feels weird for them to even ask, because of the aforementioned non-relevancy and because it stops me in my tracks and messes up my flow of where I'm going - I try not to have emotion involved when I'm at work, because that's not the point of work.

It was super jarring today, when this happened:

*phone rings*
Me: (Welcome spiel)
Male Guest: Hi, violinp! How are you today?
Me: Oh...fine. What can I -
MG: Happy Valentine's Day!
Me: *freezes for a second* Okay...thank you...
MG: Oh, did I offend you?

To be honest, I wanted to say "Yes! You did! That was super weird to do to a stranger!" But of course, I didn't want him to be upset or possibly feel bad, so I told him it was fine...and then he went on a tangent about how you never know how to greet someone these days, especially with the Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays thing...and I was just standing there feeling really awkward, trying to get back to the actual point of his call.

We eventually did, but it was so awkward and...it's not that I think these people are rude necessarily, but it feels really...off? To be this chummy with an employee you've never met and don't have a pleasant business repartee with (I have regulars who I like and will joke with in person).

Am I wrong? Are these people the normal ones? Or are they being over - friendly to the point of awkwardness?
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Jem on February 14, 2020, 05:21:34 pm
I totally get what you mean, but I doubt it is productive to push back negatively. Just respond with “I’m fine, thanks. How can I help you?” Or “Happy Valentine’s. Our movie times are 1:00 and 3:00 - which tickets would you like?”

Feeling offended is natural in this circumstance, but acting on it isn’t likely to bring anything good to your life short term or long term.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Victoria on February 14, 2020, 06:44:20 pm
I don't think that you're wrong to have preferences, but I do think that it would be unreasonable to expect that no one greet you by asking how you are.

Bear in mind that "How are you?" is not often meant as an actual question that requires a substantive answer, just an acknowledgement that you're a person and not a robot they're going to bark directions at. So "Fine, thank you" would be an appropriate answer regardless of how you're actually doing.

Saying "Happy Valentine's Day" is just another way to briefly connect at a surface level, and requires nothing further than "Thank you" or "You too." (And it's not reserved for romance-my office gives out candy, and there are tons of Valentine cards for family members and friends available).

As Jem said, the most productive thing to do is lightly acknowledge what they've said and then move forward, rather than taking the questions as an invitation or direction to have a deeper conversation.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Isisnin on February 14, 2020, 07:29:30 pm
When you work providing a service, no it is not weird. Such questions and social pleasantries are commonplace.

Just respond with "well", "good", or "fine". But you should you respond with a "how are you?" also. Otherwise, the customer might think you are rude and possibly complain to management.

When you ask "How are you?", if they respond positively and don't get to what they want but seem to be waiting for you to respond, respond with "Good to hear. How can I help you?"

If they respond negatively (e.g. "tired" "been better"), say "Sorry to hear that. How can I help with our services?". or "Sorry to hear that. Perhaps seeing one of our movies will help. Which are you interested in?"

Some holiday greetings are frustrating to me too. Like for mother's or father's day. Some people will ask if I'm a parent or if my parents are alive. No good way to handle such intrusions. Just answer briefly and move on.

But a lot of others', just respond in kind. "Happy st Patricks Day" "Happy 4th"

In short, in all such social pleasantries, respond briefly and move on.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: caroled on February 15, 2020, 01:54:58 am
You know how people will respond "Fine!" when asked how they are (even if their world is crumbling around them?)People tend to respond in the positive because they feel that they don't want to share the truth and quite frankly that the other person really doesn't want to hear the truth. Look at the first part of the question, "How are you?" as just another part of the equation.  Just an act of pleasantries.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Rose Red on February 15, 2020, 06:07:01 am
I get it. I really do. As a former CS rep, I just want to answer questions and get through the line of customers. But just as CS reps want to be treated as human beings and not soulless robots, so do customers. Small talk should be taught in any situation in life. Asking and answering the "how are you" question and talking about holidays are basic. Mentally prepare for these two topics will make the customer feel comfortable and the call more pleasant.

For example, I would be surprised by being wished a Happy Valentine's Day but would recover by cheerily laughing and say "Thank you! Happy Valentine's Day to you too!" and move on. The customer will probably forget the conversation in five minutes, but they might stew if they were made to feel awkward and either complain or take their business elsewhere.

I have also surprised CS reps by asking how they are, which I find sad. Is that so rare? Happily most of the time, their tone changed to a warmer one; you can just feel them relax and they go out of their way to help. But I still remember those who acted like I'm bothering them and it's not a good feeling.

There's a reason why CS jobs have such high turnovers. Customer service is a difficult skill and some people are natural and some have to fake it till they make it.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: violinp on February 15, 2020, 09:32:33 am
I get it. I really do. As a former CS rep, I just want to answer questions and get through the line of customers. But just as CS reps want to be treated as human beings and not soulless robots, so do customers. Small talk should be taught in any situation in life. Asking and answering the "how are you" question and talking about holidays are basic. Mentally prepare for these two topics will make the customer feel comfortable and the call more pleasant.

For example, I would be surprised by being wished a Happy Valentine's Day but would recover by cheerily laughing and say "Thank you! Happy Valentine's Day to you too!" and move on. The customer will probably forget the conversation in five minutes, but they might stew if they were made to feel awkward and either complain or take their business elsewhere.

I have also surprised CS reps by asking how they are, which I find sad. Is that so rare? Happily most of the time, their tone changed to a warmer one; you can just feel them relax and they go out of their way to help. But I still remember those who acted like I'm bothering them and it's not a good feeling.

There's a reason why CS jobs have such high turnovers. Customer service is a difficult skill and some people are natural and some have to fake it till they make it.

I guess the reason I feel uncomfortable is...well, I just don't know them. I'm on the phone with them - I usually never see them in person unless they're a morning regular - and I just...it feels weird for them to care if I'm doing okay. I'm not going to tell a stranger calling my work that I'm dealing with being tired and having morning sickness, because then they'd feel super awkward and also that's making the phone call about me, when the point of the call is that they have an issue or question that they need help with. *I'm* not the focus, *they* are.

If it's a regular who I see in person, I'm more willing to open up because then we have more of a relationship - a removed, business relationship, but still a relationship.

Also, I didn't want to say this and make it the focus and not whether I'm weird...but almost all of the people asking how I am are men, and I'm a woman. It feels really invasive for a man I don't know and have never seen to ask me how I am when the reason they're calling isn't of a personal nature. I know they aren't being creepy; I'm sure they're doing that because they don't want to come off as being a jerk who sees me as nothing more than a cog. But it just feels weird that they're trying to care about a stranger on the phone, imo.

Also probably factoring into this is that I'm on the spectrum, and I'm trying to figure out if I'm a bad person for feeling weirded out and this is a rule that I just have to accept in life that the guest and I are both giving social lubricant to a conversation that's purely a business transaction, or they are just being weird for expecting me to tell them how my day is going and how I'm feeling. Given the overwhelming responses, I'm going to assume it's the former.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Aleko on February 15, 2020, 11:29:37 am
Quote
I guess the reason I feel uncomfortable is...well, I just don't know them. I'm on the phone with them - I usually never see them in person unless they're a morning regular - and I just...it feels weird for them to care if I'm doing okay. I'm not going to tell a stranger calling my work that I'm dealing with being tired and having morning sickness . . .

Please don't! They really don't want to know! And the truth is that they haven't actually asked you to tell them these things.

'How are you?' in English-speaking society isn't a request for personal information at all; it's a stereotyped expression of non-hostile intent, calling for one of a range of stereotyped replies such as 'Very well, thank you', 'I'm OK', 'Mustn't grumble', 'Still alive!', 'Fine thanks!' et cetera. These people aren't 'trying to care about a stranger on the phone', and would be thoroughly taken aback if you told them your troubles as though you thought they did; they're just trying to signal 'I'm a human being talking to another human being'. 

Personally I would find it odd to have a total stranger wish me a 'Happy Valentine's Day'. Even now that the cards-and-chocolate manufacturers have succeeded in imposing the notion that it involves every kind of affection in addition to the romantic (which for centuries it only was), it's still about personal, individual affection; it's not a communal holiday in the way that religious, civic and national holidays are. But I would put it down to  lack of social sense, unless there was anything else about him that I found creepy.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: betty on February 15, 2020, 12:20:14 pm
I don't think it's out of the question for the customer to want to exchange pleasantries before getting to business. I often say that sort of thing. It feels rude to me to jump right in to business without acknowledging that I'm speaking to another person.

Of course I'm not trying to get personal information from the person I'm speaking to, and I won't share personal information either. But "Hello! How are you today! (or) Have a great (weekend, evening, whatever holiday it might be)!" and a reply of "Hi! I'm fine, thanks. (or) You, too." doesn't seem too awkward or intrusive to me.

And yes, if you tell me your name, I might use it back to you. ("Thanks for your help, Carol.") It helps me remember it and again, acknowledges the person on the other side of the phone line is an individual person.


Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Gellchom on February 15, 2020, 01:21:47 pm
You have it right: it’s just social lubricant in a business conversation.  “How are you today?” is no more a request for health information than “Dear Sir” and “Yours truly” in the salutation and closing of a letter are declarations of fondness and loyalty.  They are all simply social conventions to make interactions gracious.  I like very much how Victoria put it, especially the bolded:

Bear in mind that "How are you?" is not often meant as an actual question that requires a substantive answer, just an acknowledgement that you're a person and not a robot they're going to bark directions at.

Same for “Happy Valentine’s Day” or “have a good weekend” and the like.  In my midwestern city, that is very common, and even to do more than that.

I always sympathize with hosts of radio call in shows. Very often, callers start by asking the hosts how they are or saying something like, “Hey, how’s it going?“ as if they were making a social phone call. I noticed the hosts simply say, “Fine, thanks, what would you like to ask Guest?“ or something like that, although I am sure they are rolling their eyes!

Of course, individuals, and different cultures, have different preferences and conventions about how much is too little or too much.  It can be tricky not to be seen as being either too curt or too intrusive or beating around the bush.

It helps to remember that it’s just social convention and roll with it.  Maybe it would help if you sort of internally translated it into Victoria’s wording, as if they were saying, “You’re a human being, not a robot.”  That’s something that is easy to say “thank you” to.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Mary Sunshine Rain on February 15, 2020, 04:17:04 pm
Also probably factoring into this is that I'm on the spectrum, and I'm trying to figure out if I'm a bad person for feeling weirded out and this is a rule that I just have to accept in life that the guest and I are both giving social lubricant to a conversation that's purely a business transaction, or they are just being weird for expecting me to tell them how my day is going and how I'm feeling. Given the overwhelming responses, I'm going to assume it's the former.

You're not a bad person.  But, you should probably work on de-emotionalizing on this.  It is a normal part of social interaction in business and in other casual social interactions.

By taking it personally when it's not meant to be, you, unfortunately end up making it about yourself. Perhaps you could find a friend with whom you can roll play some scripts so that it becomes automatic and not something you stop to think about or process emotionally that makes you feel icky.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: pierrotlunaire0 on February 15, 2020, 09:14:27 pm
These people do not want to have a real conversation with you. Just as you used in your header, they are offering pleasantries, making a simple interaction seem less robotic. Just think of it as putting some grease on a wheel: it makes the whole process go smoother.

I used to work at the DMV, and I could be extremely pleasant in my interactions (really! I was!). But I was also extremely efficient, fast, and professional. Customers did not hang around in front of my station to chit chat. I acknowledge the "impersonal niceness" of the professional interaction. It really keeps things pleasant, and just as importantly, kept me from burning out.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Copper Horsewoman on February 16, 2020, 12:13:07 pm
I am with the "it's innocuous" camp. I am a retailer, and also deal with lots of people on the phone, both as caller and called. A short "How are you today?" is not something I offer when calling, and answer the question with, "very well thank you, and you?" but I may acknowledge a holiday, especially if I have to call for service on said holiday. I had a minor parking lot fender-bender on Christmas Eve one year. In calling it in to my insurance company, I acknowledged the person on the other line by saying I am sorry she had to work on Christmas Eve, but I was glad I could report this quickly. As she worked through the various menus needed to fill out the report, we chatted on the weather (it was in my area a contributing factor), I found she worked in a part of the country that did not experience such weather, but she had received several calls from my area on issue very similar, so she made me feel better about it. It did not prolong the call, nor did it interfere with the outcome.  Made an aggravation rather more bearable.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Amigurumi on February 16, 2020, 04:30:11 pm
I worked on the phones for a telecom company. (soul sucking work) There is a practical reason for asking how someone is doing: getting used to the voice, checking if the volume of the phone is at the right setting for this person (not too loud, not too soft) and making sure everything is ready to handle the call. We usually asked for their postcode + house number first and while the information was loading in the screen you asked how they were doing.


Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: SioCat on February 16, 2020, 08:16:25 pm
I find it very weird.

Where I work, it’s almost a guarantee that those types of people are looking for a same day appointment. Usually on the weekend. It all seems so fake to me.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: DaDancingPsych on February 17, 2020, 08:10:48 am
I think that these customers are providing you with clues as to the tone that they want their business to proceed. They want a warmer, more friendly personal interaction than others who get right down to business. If your company allows for it, I would make the call slightly more personal than I would normal calls. I don't think it's a requirement, but I think the customer will hang up feeling better about the business. They have given you permission to smile and laugh a little. I wouldn't get crazy with the banter and would re-steer the conversation back to business rather quickly. But to me, I always try to adjust my customer interactions to each individual customer.

However, I can understand how this might feel weird. If most callers don't do the pleasantries, I could see where it might catch you off guard.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: lowspark on February 17, 2020, 11:44:40 am
I'm going to go against the tide here and say that I completely understand your discomfort. And I had a feeling that you were going to say it was mainly men on the other end of the line.

The conversation you transcribed was fine until the caller asked about offending you. Once he sensed your discomfort, he should have just gotten on with his business. But that line just smacks of the attitude men sometimes have toward women to "just smile" and "take compliments" etc.

I think the "how are you" question is fine and inoffensive. And notwithstanding what I said above, I'm confident that the vast majority of these conversations are really just an attempt at being friendly. I worked in retail years ago and discovered that there are a lot of lonely people who just have no one to talk to. Either consciously or not, they find that someone in a customer service position sort of has to talk (or listen!) to them for at least a bit.

But I have also experienced the discomfort of a having a man venture onto the edge, even if it's the extreme edge, of what might be considered inappropriate, and then not back off.

What can you do? Give one word answers and continue to steer it back to business to the best of your ability.


Me: (Welcome spiel)
Male Guest: Hi, violinp! How are you today?
Me: Fine. What can I -
MG: Happy Valentine's Day!
Me: Thanks. What can I -
MG: Oh, did I offend you?
Me: What can I help you with today? 

I agree with some who say that if it just feels like friendly banter, to go along with it a bit. But I get the feeling that the reason you are asking about it here is that it is not feeling like innocuous friendly banter.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Hmmm on February 17, 2020, 02:53:16 pm
I find it very weird.

Where I work, it’s almost a guarantee that those types of people are looking for a same day appointment. Usually on the weekend. It all seems so fake to me.
You think wanting to treat the other person on the phone as a human and not a bot and exchange basic pleasantries means they are fake or wanting special treatment. That is so cynical.

I think this would be a very nice exchange:
Me: Hi, this is Hmmm, thank you for calling theater. How may I help you?
Customer: Hi, Hmmm, how are you today?
Me: I'm well and I hope you are to.
Customer: I am, Happy Valentine's Day!
Me: Thank you and you to. How may I be of assistance?
Customer: Thank you. I'm calling to check on seating availability for this evening.

It's called pleasantries because it's supposed to be a pleasant exchange between two individuals. How often do we hear or read about irate customers calling or just rude people who treat the customer service rep as just an automated voice box. Obviously this theater wants to give a more inviting experience for their clients or they'd invest in a cheap solution of "please press 1 for show times".
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: PVZFan on February 17, 2020, 03:17:07 pm
I find it very weird.

Where I work, it’s almost a guarantee that those types of people are looking for a same day appointment. Usually on the weekend. It all seems so fake to me.
You think wanting to treat the other person on the phone as a human and not a bot and exchange basic pleasantries means they are fake or wanting special treatment. That is so cynical.

I think this would be a very nice exchange:
Me: Hi, this is Hmmm, thank you for calling theater. How may I help you?
Customer: Hi, Hmmm, how are you today?
Me: I'm well and I hope you are to.
Customer: I am, Happy Valentine's Day!
Me: Thank you and you to. How may I be of assistance?
Customer: Thank you. I'm calling to check on seating availability for this evening.

It's called pleasantries because it's supposed to be a pleasant exchange between two individuals. How often do we hear or read about irate customers calling or just rude people who treat the customer service rep as just an automated voice box. Obviously this theater wants to give a more inviting experience for their clients or they'd invest in a cheap solution of "please press 1 for show times".

Yes, it's clear that the theater wants someone to answer the phone and that's presumably to have a human interaction. Pleasantries and chit chat are part of human interaction. Personally, if I'm calling for something, I think just going straight to my request is a bit abrupt. I wouldn't have said, "Happy Valentine's Day," but I would have said, "Hi (name given) how are you?" Then, after a response, said, "I'm calling to see if there are still seats available for X time."

I can see tlowspark's point that sometimes it's men venturing into the edge of being inappropriate and I think that can be addressed in the tone of the response.

OP, I'd be careful about confirmation bias and be sure that you're not just counting the times when men are exchanging pleasantries.

Also, you've said that you're on the spectrum. Social pleasantries can be hard for people on the spectrum in general and you might not have been expecting those in what you've classified as a "business" interaction, but be assured that these pleasantries are normal and typical for a business interaction. I'll suggest that you think of them not as solely "social" pleasantries but as "human" pleasantries. When humans are talking, socially or professionally, these are reasonable interactions.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Hmmm on February 17, 2020, 03:29:32 pm
I find it very weird.

Where I work, it’s almost a guarantee that those types of people are looking for a same day appointment. Usually on the weekend. It all seems so fake to me.
You think wanting to treat the other person on the phone as a human and not a bot and exchange basic pleasantries means they are fake or wanting special treatment. That is so cynical.

I think this would be a very nice exchange:
Me: Hi, this is Hmmm, thank you for calling theater. How may I help you?
Customer: Hi, Hmmm, how are you today?
Me: I'm well and I hope you are to.
Customer: I am, Happy Valentine's Day!
Me: Thank you and you to. How may I be of assistance?
Customer: Thank you. I'm calling to check on seating availability for this evening.

It's called pleasantries because it's supposed to be a pleasant exchange between two individuals. How often do we hear or read about irate customers calling or just rude people who treat the customer service rep as just an automated voice box. Obviously this theater wants to give a more inviting experience for their clients or they'd invest in a cheap solution of "please press 1 for show times".

Yes, it's clear that the theater wants someone to answer the phone and that's presumably to have a human interaction. Pleasantries and chit chat are part of human interaction. Personally, if I'm calling for something, I think just going straight to my request is a bit abrupt. I wouldn't have said, "Happy Valentine's Day," but I would have said, "Hi (name given) how are you?" Then, after a response, said, "I'm calling to see if there are still seats available for X time."

I can see tlowspark's point that sometimes it's men venturing into the edge of being inappropriate and I think that can be addressed in the tone of the response.

OP, I'd be careful about confirmation bias and be sure that you're not just counting the times when men are exchanging pleasantries.

Also, you've said that you're on the spectrum. Social pleasantries can be hard for people on the spectrum in general and you might not have been expecting those in what you've classified as a "business" interaction, but be assured that these pleasantries are normal and typical for a business interaction. I'll suggest that you think of them not as solely "social" pleasantries but as "human" pleasantries. When humans are talking, socially or professionally, these are reasonable interactions.

I really like that distinction! For me, these exchanges are on the same level as saying Please and Thank you when working in a professional environment. They are not intrusive or overly familiar.

Didn't we have a discussion recently about a sales clerk asking about weekend plans and a few thought that was overly familiar?
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: TootsNYC on February 18, 2020, 11:26:49 am

Please don't! They really don't want to know! And the truth is that they haven't actually asked you to tell them these things.


I get that, truly I do. But I also think that the people who are throwing violinp are probably the ones who ask in a tone that implies they DO expect an answer.
But of course, they really only want one answer, which is not a REAL answer.

And I am increasingly uncomfortable with personalizing every interaction, so the Happy Valentine's Day would be annoying.
I wouldn't be offended, I'd just be annoyed.

But I think if you work in the customer service field, this is just one of those things you need to actively plan for how to handle.

I think when someone in a non-social situation says, "How are you?" you have no obligation to ask "and how are you?" in return. I'm w/ the idea of saying, "I'm fine; how can I help you today?" And make it all one sentence, with no break for them to interject anything.

And if they say "happy holiday" (whichever it is), say, "And to you--how may I help you?"
Again, no break.

If they get on a rant, take the first gap to say, "Yes, well, how can I help you today?"
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Jem on February 18, 2020, 01:01:08 pm
...but be assured that these pleasantries are normal and typical for a business interaction. I'll suggest that you think of them not as solely "social" pleasantries but as "human" pleasantries. When humans are talking, socially or professionally, these are reasonable interactions.

I don't disagree, but I don't think there is anything wrong or rude about NOT doing the social or "human" pleasantries. When I am working with someone I know, I actually care and may ask how they are, how their vacation was, whether their kid won the soccer tournament. For a one-time business interaction, it's just words, though, and not ACTUAL interest, so I prefer to not do that dance. I'm not rude, I just don't feel the need to prolong a simple business transaction with fluff that means nothing.

I've shared before about the person at the convenience store who INSISTED on calling after me over and over using my actual name, which he learned from my credit card. He didn't come across as being "pleasant." He came across as rude. I would have preferred he simply ring out my purchase so we both could go ahead with our days.

Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Hmmm on February 18, 2020, 01:48:58 pm

Please don't! They really don't want to know! And the truth is that they haven't actually asked you to tell them these things.


I get that, truly I do. But I also think that the people who are throwing violinp are probably the ones who ask in a tone that implies they DO expect an answer.
But of course, they really only want one answer, which is not a REAL answer.

And I am increasingly uncomfortable with personalizing every interaction, so the Happy Valentine's Day would be annoying.[/b]
I wouldn't be offended, I'd just be annoyed.

But I think if you work in the customer service field, this is just one of those things you need to actively plan for how to handle.

I think when someone in a non-social situation says, "How are you?" you have no obligation to ask "and how are you?" in return. I'm w/ the idea of saying, "I'm fine; how can I help you today?" And make it all one sentence, with no break for them to interject anything.

And if they say "happy holiday" (whichever it is), say, "And to you--how may I help you?"
Again, no break.

If they get on a rant, take the first gap to say, "Yes, well, how can I help you today?"

I'm really curious by your statement because I know you usually have a good reason behind your comments.

If we are speaking to a person, why wouldn't we want to personalize the interaction? I'm not saying create a fake friendship or ask intrusive questions. But a "Happy New Year" or "Happy Valentines Day" or "Happy Fourth" just seems so generic. Sure, you might run across someone who is going through a hard time and not been in a mood for a happy anything. But you might also be run into someone who appreciates being addressed as a human.

I just hate for the standard interaction to become less personal because 1 in 5 people are jolted if someone offers a pretty standard greeting. If it was the norm in our lives, the amount of people who are jolted by this type of greeting would be reduced.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: PVZFan on February 18, 2020, 01:57:25 pm
...but be assured that these pleasantries are normal and typical for a business interaction. I'll suggest that you think of them not as solely "social" pleasantries but as "human" pleasantries. When humans are talking, socially or professionally, these are reasonable interactions.

I don't disagree, but I don't think there is anything wrong or rude about NOT doing the social or "human" pleasantries. When I am working with someone I know, I actually care and may ask how they are, how their vacation was, whether their kid won the soccer tournament. For a one-time business interaction, it's just words, though, and not ACTUAL interest, so I prefer to not do that dance. I'm not rude, I just don't feel the need to prolong a simple business transaction with fluff that means nothing.

I've shared before about the person at the convenience store who INSISTED on calling after me over and over using my actual name, which he learned from my credit card. He didn't come across as being "pleasant." He came across as rude. I would have preferred he simply ring out my purchase so we both could go ahead with our days.



I didn't say it's wrong or rude not to do it, and when you're on the "initiation" end of the business transaction you can choose not to include pleasantries. My point is that when the OP is working in customer service, especially for an employer who has prioritized having a person answer calls that are typically handled in an automated way (at least at any cinema I've called in the past 20+ years), that the OP should not be surprised when a customer engages in this type of interaction.

The cashier calling after you with your name is weird. The other day I had a problem with a flight itinerary. The rep was cynical and a bit rude. I was walking away and he wanted to call me back and he called out my first name. I was annoyed that he used my first name after we'd had a bit of a problematic interaction. He handed me a $20 voucher for food, which was nice, but he'd, overall, been a pill. (And I had to call the airline I'd originally booked with to get credit for the miles for the flight. This was a codeshare situation and he didn't put my original information in and really hosed things up. He was the gift that kept on giving.  ::) )
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Gellchom on February 18, 2020, 02:56:29 pm
For a one-time business interaction, it's just words, though, and not ACTUAL interest, so I prefer to not do that dance. I'm not rude, I just don't feel the need to prolong a simple business transaction with fluff that means nothing.

I don't know that I would call social lubricant that serves to recognize that the other person is not a slave or a machine "fluff that means nothing."  But rationally, what you say makes perfect sense, and certainly you are entitled to your preference not to prolong interactions.

However, where social conventions are concerned, rationality doesn't settle the issue (that's kind of the whole point of conventions; they avoid case by case rational or merit decisions).  That does NOT mean that you are always rude if you don't say "How are you?" or answer "Fine, thanks," if asked.  But occasionally, depending on circumstances, you (general you) might be, no matter what you prefer and what your reasoning is.

It's like, some people have perfectly rational reasons for not liking shaking hands -- religious, health, etc.  But the social convention in the US is that it is extremely rude, even hostile, to refuse to shake an offered hand.  So if for some reason you simply cannot, you need to compensate in some way, so it's clear that you are not rejecting the social interaction, just the physical act.  One man I thought was very gracious puts his hand over his heart instead, smiles regretfully, and says, "For religious reasons, I can't shake hands, but I'm very happy to meet you."  Similarly, "Sorry, I need to be extra careful during flu season" or "Sorry, I have bad arthritis in my hand that prevents my shaking hands" and the like (some people bump elbows instead).  But if you refuse to shake an offered hand only because you just don't like it, and you don't apologize and offer a plausible excuse like "I've been around kids who have colds; I don't want to infect you," that's very rude.

In my opinion, the same sometimes holds true, albeit at a much lower level, for social greetings, such as in a situation like this:

Store clerk: "Hi, how are you?"
Customer: "Does this come in red?"

To me, that is a little rude and disrespectful, because it ignores the human gesture the clerk made and speaks only to how the customer wants the clerk to serve them. 

"Fine, thanks.  Does this come in red?" takes only a split second longer.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Jem on February 18, 2020, 03:29:23 pm
Store clerk: "Hi, how are you?"
Customer: "Does this come in red?"

To me, that is a little rude and disrespectful, because it ignores the human gesture the clerk made and speaks only to how the customer wants the clerk to serve them. 

"Fine, thanks.  Does this come in red?" takes only a split second longer.

I would think it would make more sense to be polite and genuine.

Store clerk: "Hi, can I help you find something?"
Customer: "Thanks - does this come in red?"

I'm not saying I don't respond "fine, thanks" when someone I don't know and will never see again asks how I am. I am saying I find it just fluff because the person really doesn't want a response, and I don't really want to give one either. I simply prefer to keep business transactions as business. Polite, but not pretending it is a social interaction.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Hmmm on February 18, 2020, 04:46:57 pm
...but be assured that these pleasantries are normal and typical for a business interaction. I'll suggest that you think of them not as solely "social" pleasantries but as "human" pleasantries. When humans are talking, socially or professionally, these are reasonable interactions.

I don't disagree, but I don't think there is anything wrong or rude about NOT doing the social or "human" pleasantries. When I am working with someone I know, I actually care and may ask how they are, how their vacation was, whether their kid won the soccer tournament. For a one-time business interaction, it's just words, though, and not ACTUAL interest, so I prefer to not do that dance. I'm not rude, I just don't feel the need to prolong a simple business transaction with fluff that means nothing.

I've shared before about the person at the convenience store who INSISTED on calling after me over and over using my actual name, which he learned from my credit card. He didn't come across as being "pleasant." He came across as rude. I would have preferred he simply ring out my purchase so we both could go ahead with our days.

I guess I don't see it as fluff that means nothing. I think I've shared this before which is maybe what colors my opinions. For the last 20 years, I've worked for a large multi-country corporation. I can go months primarily dealing with US bases staffed and then there's been years where I primarily work with people in other countries. I realized that I can across as brusk when working with non-US. It was common for me to send an instant message with not "Hi, Tim" and wait for a response but instead I'd send "Tim, when can you send me your update" or even just "please send the update by end of day." In meetings in other countries, I'd expect everyone to come in say good morning and then and get right to business. Not the pleasantries that was their costume. Because I've spent the last 15 years really working on creating a more polite workspace, I feel I shouldn't stop there but observe "human pleasantries" with all humans I encounter. It takes 30 seconds of my time and theirs.

I have found in my work, that taking the pause to truly greet another co-worker actually reduces my stress level and makes my work day more pleasant. It takes my mind of the specific work item for just a moment. But that moment is like taking a deep breathe and saying breath to myself.

I don't see the experience with the convenience store worker related to what was being discussed in this thread. That is strange behavior and creating a false sense of intimacy.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Gellchom on February 18, 2020, 08:59:22 pm
At the supermarket today, I told the checker and the bagger is been discussing this and asked if they dislike it or find it intrusive or phony when customers say “how are you?”  They said, “No, of course not, I like it” — they were both surprised by the question, in fact.  But I think that that’s a function of regional custom; it’s just very common here.

So there it is, I think — it’s a social convention, which means it’s not to be taken literally.  Hmmm’s extremely interesting last post about her experiences with other cultures illustrates that very well.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: SioCat on February 18, 2020, 09:13:10 pm
At the supermarket today, I told the checker and the bagger is been discussing this and asked if they dislike it or find it intrusive or phony when customers say “how are you?”  They said, “No, of course not, I like it” — they were both surprised by the question, in fact.  But I think that that’s a function of regional custom; it’s just very common here.

So there it is, I think — it’s a social convention, which means it’s not to be taken literally.  Hmmm’s extremely interesting last post about her experiences with other cultures illustrates that very well.

To be fair, if one of my clients asked me this, I would probably say the same thing. I definitely wouldn’t tell them the truth and risk upsetting the client. I can voice my opinion here because it’s private and likely won’t affect my business.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: collakat on February 19, 2020, 02:49:00 am
In African culture it is considered rude not to properly greet first and ask the other person how they are.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Aleko on February 19, 2020, 06:59:08 am
Quote
In African culture it is considered rude not to properly greet first and ask the other person how they are.

Collakat, don't you mean "South African culture"? "Africa" is a pretty big place, with many different cultures.

And every culture has its own norms, which often they don't even fully articulate to themselves until people from somewhere else come along and violate them. For example, in France nobody expects or wants waitstaff or retail staff to ask complete strangers how they are, or wish them a nice day, still less ask them what plans they have for the weekend, heaven forbid! But if you walk into a smallish shop (i.e. not a supermarket) and don't greet everyone there, both staff and other customers, with 'Bonjour, m'sieurs-dames' ('Good day, ladies and gentlemen'), you are ill-mannered.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Soop on February 19, 2020, 07:16:21 am
I don't find the 'how are you?' particularly odd or annoying, although completely not necessary. I do find the 'Happy Valentine's Day' strange. It's an observance about close relationships, particularly romantic ones. Sounds odd to be 'wished' it by a complete stranger who knows nothing about my love life.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: lowspark on February 19, 2020, 08:30:48 am
It was common for me to send an instant message with not "Hi, Tim" and wait for a response but instead I'd send "Tim, when can you send me your update" or even just "please send the update by end of day."

This is actually a bit of a pet peeve of mine. And it's going to make me sound anti-social, but believe me, I'm not!
I serve internal customers in my job and have the philosophy that, to the best of my ability, I should make every customer feel like they are my one and only customer. So regardless of what I'm in the middle of working on, if someone sends me an instant message, I like to respond immediately.

So if they say, "Hi Lowspark" and then nothing else, apparently waiting for me to say "hi" back, before they just go ahead and tell me what they need, it's annoying*. Because then I've interrupted my work unproductively, and I now have to wait for their next message to find out what they want. And then, if they come back with "how are you" it's another wasted exchange.

I would prefer they just let me know their question or issue. If they really want to go through the pleasantries, that's fine, but just string it all together.
"Hi Lowspark! How are you today? Can you please do xyz for me?"

Then I can reply with the "hi, fine, how are you" string, and my response to their request.

Maybe this sounds cold. And there are certain people who I have an interpersonal relationship with where it's not just innocuous pleasantries but a real interest in each other's lives, so that kind of conversation is more normal and welcome. But I have a lot of customers I've never met, many of whom live in different states or countries, and if they need something from me, I'd much prefer they just get right to the point.

Regarding the exchange with the cashier at the grocery store (as an example), I always take my cue from them. If they ask how I am, I'll reply and ask back. If they just say, "did you find everything you needed?" I'll reply "yes, thanks." But I don't remember ever initiating the "how are you" or "Happy [insert holiday here]" with them.

*Notwithstanding my annoyance, I do play the game and respond according to their lead. I'm just not a fan of it.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Jem on February 19, 2020, 08:51:44 am
POD to lowspark. In the instant messaging situation, I would choose something in the middle (and in my emails I do).

I wouldn't say, "Tim, when can you send me your update?" unless we had already been in contact earlier that day, but I would say, "Hi Tim! I hope you are well. When should I expect your update?"

The "I hope you are well" is sincere and does not require a response. Had I asked "how are you" it would NOT be sincere because I wouldn't actually expect a substantive answer, and Tim likely wouldn't want to give one. Asking "how are you?" comes across as phony to me, and I find it irritating. Expressing, in writing, "I hope you are well" is much smoother and far more sincere, in my opinion.

In face to face transactions I don't ask how people are either unless I actually want to know. In a store setting I might say, "Excuse me, does this top come in red?" I would feel weird going up to a person who clearly works at the store and pretending it is a social visit by starting with, "Good morning! How are you? Did you have a good weekend?" and have them look at me blankly wondering what this has to do with anything.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: lowspark on February 19, 2020, 09:11:38 am
In face to face transactions I don't ask how people are either unless I actually want to know. In a store setting I might say, "Excuse me, does this top come in red?" I would feel weird going up to a person who clearly works at the store and pretending it is a social visit by starting with, "Good morning! How are you? Did you have a good weekend?" and have them look at me blankly wondering what this has to do with anything.

And this is the closest we've come, in my opinion, to more clearly demonstrating the OP's discomfort.
If the salesperson/cashier/CS rep initiates the "hi, how are you, happy valentine's day" banter, then that's sort of the face of the business trying to make things pleasant for the customer.
But if the customer initiates it, it's a bit off.

In the OP, the caller is presumably interested in info about the movies, so prefacing it with all that small talk is not necessary and potentially a waste of the OP's time, as she has other calls to answer and other customers to tend to.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: bopper on February 19, 2020, 10:09:28 am
I think the problem is you have a "script" for calls and also want to efficiently get through this call so you can also help the next call.
The "how are you" and "happy valentine's"  questions stop you in that script. You want to help them with their problem/question, not chit chat.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Hmmm on February 19, 2020, 10:42:44 am
It was common for me to send an instant message with not "Hi, Tim" and wait for a response but instead I'd send "Tim, when can you send me your update" or even just "please send the update by end of day."

This is actually a bit of a pet peeve of mine. And it's going to make me sound anti-social, but believe me, I'm not!
I serve internal customers in my job and have the philosophy that, to the best of my ability, I should make every customer feel like they are my one and only customer. So regardless of what I'm in the middle of working on, if someone sends me an instant message, I like to respond immediately.

So if they say, "Hi Lowspark" and then nothing else, apparently waiting for me to say "hi" back, before they just go ahead and tell me what they need, it's annoying*. Because then I've interrupted my work unproductively, and I now have to wait for their next message to find out what they want. And then, if they come back with "how are you" it's another wasted exchange.

I would prefer they just let me know their question or issue. If they really want to go through the pleasantries, that's fine, but just string it all together.
"Hi Lowspark! How are you today? Can you please do xyz for me?"

Then I can reply with the "hi, fine, how are you" string, and my response to their request.

Maybe this sounds cold. And there are certain people who I have an interpersonal relationship with where it's not just innocuous pleasantries but a real interest in each other's lives, so that kind of conversation is more normal and welcome. But I have a lot of customers I've never met, many of whom live in different states or countries, and if they need something from me, I'd much prefer they just get right to the point.

Regarding the exchange with the cashier at the grocery store (as an example), I always take my cue from them. If they ask how I am, I'll reply and ask back. If they just say, "did you find everything you needed?" I'll reply "yes, thanks." But I don't remember ever initiating the "how are you" or "Happy [insert holiday here]" with them.

*Notwithstanding my annoyance, I do play the game and respond according to their lead. I'm just not a fan of it.

I feel the same way actually. So I do the "Hi, Tim. I'm needing to chat. Let me know when you're free". Or Hi, Tim, I have a question about the report you sent." But I get it a lot from people who use instant messaging like they would a phone. If they called me and said "Hi, Hmmm" they'd wait for me to respond not just launch into "Hi, Hmmm, I'm calling about the annual report".
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Jem on February 19, 2020, 11:49:11 am
I don’t use instant messaging, but if I got a work email that didn’t explain it’s purpose, or a phone call with no message, I would not respond at all. If someone sent me a message of, “Hi, Jem,” I would likely hit delete and move on. It comes across, to me, as creepy almost. It reminds me of people I would block on Facebook or Instagram trolling for who knows what. If someone on those platforms DMs me with, “Hi, Jem. I wondered if you could share your experience with [thing I posted about]. I am specifically interested in how you got into [thing] and aspects A, B and C. Thank you!” That I might respond to. But just “hi Jem.” Nope.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: lowspark on February 19, 2020, 01:04:08 pm
I don’t use instant messaging, but if I got a work email that didn’t explain it’s purpose, or a phone call with no message, I would not respond at all. If someone sent me a message of, “Hi, Jem,” I would likely hit delete and move on. It comes across, to me, as creepy almost. It reminds me of people I would block on Facebook or Instagram trolling for who knows what. If someone on those platforms DMs me with, “Hi, Jem. I wondered if you could share your experience with [thing I posted about]. I am specifically interested in how you got into [thing] and aspects A, B and C. Thank you!” That I might respond to. But just “hi Jem.” Nope.

I think that emails and phone messages fall into a different category than IMs. Emails and phone messages do not assume an "instant" reply that "instant" messaging does. Now, given, IMs do not always get an instant reply, but it's sort of the nature of the tool that it plays out more like a phone call, with the back and forth conversation, than a phone message where you say something and then wait for an undetermined amount of time for the reply.

At work, if I ignored people who didn't state their business up front in an IM, I'd probably end up with negative feedback for being non responsive. I may be annoyed, but I still gotta help my customers!
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: TootsNYC on February 19, 2020, 01:34:27 pm
I don't find the 'how are you?' particularly odd or annoying, although completely not necessary. I do find the 'Happy Valentine's Day' strange. It's an observance about close relationships, particularly romantic ones. Sounds odd to be 'wished' it by a complete stranger who knows nothing about my love life.

Well...when I was a kid, every kid in the class got a valentine. And there are people for whom it's about hanging a flag on the front of their house, leaving chocolate hearts on everyone's desk at work...

I wouldn't read that much into it.

(And I'm someone who would rather not get into too much social chitchat at work, because it's a professional interaction, and there are ways to treat someone like a person without the meaningless call-and-response.)
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: TeamBhakta on February 19, 2020, 03:49:23 pm
I'm going to go against the tide here and say that I completely understand your discomfort. And I had a feeling that you were going to say it was mainly men on the other end of the line.


I go through that at work, too. Hate it. It's bad enough that any woman I train gets a mini lecture about "how to scare off the creeps."
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: collakat on February 20, 2020, 01:39:57 am
Quote
In African culture it is considered rude not to properly greet first and ask the other person how they are.

Collakat, don't you mean "South African culture"? "Africa" is a pretty big place, with many different cultures.

And every culture has its own norms, which often they don't even fully articulate to themselves until people from somewhere else come along and violate them. For example, in France nobody expects or wants waitstaff or retail staff to ask complete strangers how they are, or wish them a nice day, still less ask them what plans they have for the weekend, heaven forbid! But if you walk into a smallish shop (i.e. not a supermarket) and don't greet everyone there, both staff and other customers, with 'Bonjour, m'sieurs-dames' ('Good day, ladies and gentlemen'), you are ill-mannered.

I do pick it up from our neighboring countries and friends from other (more north) African countries also.  So that is why I said African as opposed to South African. However, we are seen as a friendly nation  ;D
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: JeanFromBNA on February 20, 2020, 12:18:21 pm
I'm going to go against the tide here and say that I completely understand your discomfort. And I had a feeling that you were going to say it was mainly men on the other end of the line.


I go through that at work, too. Hate it. It's bad enough that any woman I train gets a mini lecture about "how to scare off the creeps."
Care to share the lecture?
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: TeamBhakta on February 20, 2020, 12:44:53 pm
I'm going to go against the tide here and say that I completely understand your discomfort. And I had a feeling that you were going to say it was mainly men on the other end of the line.


I go through that at work, too. Hate it. It's bad enough that any woman I train gets a mini lecture about "how to scare off the creeps."
Care to share the lecture?

It's usually a long one. It goes something like this:

-"See Steve in produce ? He's a creep. He hits on every woman. Do not be alone with him. If he does anything creepy, you go straight to management."
-"If a customer asks for your last name, you don't tell them. 99% of the time it's a man asking. There's a LOT of men who act like him here and over at our sister stores across town."
-"They'll ask what town you live in, where you grew up, etc. You don't have to tell them. Be vague. It's okay to say 'uh huh, out that way' or even lie that you live in another town."
-"Men will ask you if Mary or Katie work here. Mary doesn't work here anymore. She got a a new job years ago. These men aren't her friends; I asked her. They're just customers who have latched onto her. That will happen to you, too. Never tell a customer what day Katie or I or the other girls will be in. Don't tell them what hours you will be working, either."
-"There's this one sample guy who used to sexually harass us. The company quietly dropped him instead of directly firing him. Let me tell you what he did and what he looks like...He comes in a lot and asks why he hasn't gotten any hours lately. Just tell him you don't know why."
-"There's this other sample guy we directly got fired for sexual harassment...."
-"If a guy hits on you or makes you uncomfortable, point to Bob [really tall, hulking manager] and say 'Would you like to tell that to our manager Bob ? I'm sure he'd like hear that.' It scares them off. Or you can lie and mention that your [imaginary] husband the cop / marine wouldn't like to hear that. You shouldn't lie about being married to a cop or military guy any other time, of course. If one of the county cops is shopping in here, just happen to call them over for a sample. That works, too!"
-"Men will say creepy things to you right in front of their wives or girlfriends. These women will just laugh and say 'oh, you have to understand Paul's sense of humor. Paul, you're so funny, tee hee!' Not much you can do about those kind of couples, besides not laugh and make the guy feel like an idiot for shooting his mouth off."
-"I had a customer tell me he had a dream about me. He really wanted to share about it. Gross. He has a crush on me and I don't wanna know. With that kind of man, just keep redirecting the conversation back to whatever you're selling, until they give up sharing crap like that."
-"Customers will recognize you around town, even on your day off. It happens to me a lot. It's not so bad when it's old ladies saying 'I know you from Store X.' With men, though, it usually leads to lots of questions about you, getting hit on, etc. You don't have to share anything they ask you."
-"Let me tell you about the customer who grabbed his crotch on purpose one day. Oh my god..."
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: jpcher on February 20, 2020, 03:42:41 pm
Thanks for sharing that TeamBhakta. That's good information for anybody in any type of job/position.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: JeanFromBNA on February 21, 2020, 02:22:52 pm
Yes, thank you, TeamBhakta. I just hired a young woman for a field position in construction inspection, and will have to have a similar talk.  I've been thinking about what to say and how to say it. It's frustrating that such a lecture is necessary.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: chigger on February 21, 2020, 04:39:03 pm
Management needs to shut down that sort of bullshit! If I had to tell an employee that so and so is a creep, it would be a damn shame! The creep should have been long, long gone. That is a lawsuit waiting to happen, and I would be damned if I'm a part of it! Thinking it about it further, if I had someone telling me about the creep, I would immediately rethink my employment at that business! So very gross.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: PVZFan on February 21, 2020, 04:42:32 pm
Management needs to shut down that sort of bullshit! If I had to tell an employee that so and so is a creep, it would be a damn shame! The creep should have been long, long gone. That is a lawsuit waiting to happen, and I would be damned if I'm a part of it! Thinking it about it further, if I had someone telling me about the creep, I would immediately rethink my employment at that business! So very gross.

I agree! Particularly with the bolded. I'd have to be hard up for a job to stay there.

I worked at a grocery store as a teen and asked not to be on the express register on a Friday because I got hit on so much and the owner told me to wear less makeup. The hell? I started planning my exit right then.

Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: oogyda on March 03, 2020, 11:51:55 am

 

It's usually a long one. It goes something like this:

-"See Steve in produce ? He's a creep. He hits on every woman. Do not be alone with him. If he does anything creepy, you go straight to management."
Oh, hell no!  If Steve is that much of a creep, he should be reported each and every time to management.  YOU (or any employee) should not be talking to another employee about a third employee!  That puts your ass on the line and it should!
-"If a customer asks for your last name, you don't tell them. 99% of the time it's a man asking. There's a LOT of men who act like him here and over at our sister stores across town."  Most women know this.  But, it's sexist of you to believe it only applies to women
-"They'll ask what town you live in, where you grew up, etc. You don't have to tell them. Be vague. It's okay to say 'uh huh, out that way' or even lie that you live in another town." See above
-"Men will ask you if Mary or Katie work here. Mary doesn't work here anymore. She got a a new job years ago. These men aren't her friends; I asked her. They're just customers who have latched onto her. That will happen to you, too. Never tell a customer what day Katie or I or the other girls will be in. Don't tell them what hours you will be working, either." Leave Mary and Katie and the backstory out of it.  No employee should ever give out information on other employees.  Ever.
-"There's this one sample guy who used to sexually harass us. The company quietly dropped him instead of directly firing him. Let me tell you what he did and what he looks like...He comes in a lot and asks why he hasn't gotten any hours lately. Just tell him you don't know why." Gossipy.
 Since there was no action taken this could also set you up for a complaint.  Refer all inquiries to management.
-"There's this other sample guy we directly got fired for sexual harassment...."Gossipy unless it's information available to employees if they ask.
-"If a guy hits on you or makes you uncomfortable, point to Bob [really tall, hulking manager] and say 'Would you like to tell that to our manager Bob ? I'm sure he'd like hear that.' It scares them off. Or you can lie and mention that your [imaginary] husband the cop / marine wouldn't like to hear that. You shouldn't lie about being married to a cop or military guy any other time, of course. If one of the county cops is shopping in here, just happen to call them over for a sample. That works, too!" 
-"Men will say creepy things to you right in front of their wives or girlfriends. These women will just laugh and say 'oh, you have to understand Paul's sense of humor. Paul, you're so funny, tee hee!' Not much you can do about those kind of couples, besides not laugh and make the guy feel like an idiot for shooting his mouth off."
-"I had a customer tell me he had a dream about me. He really wanted to share about it. Gross. He has a crush on me and I don't wanna know. With that kind of man, just keep redirecting the conversation back to whatever you're selling, until they give up sharing crap like that."
-"Customers will recognize you around town, even on your day off. It happens to me a lot. It's not so bad when it's old ladies saying 'I know you from Store X.' With men, though, it usually leads to lots of questions about you, getting hit on, etc. You don't have to share anything they ask you."
-"Let me tell you about the customer who grabbed his crotch on purpose one day. Oh my god..."
[/quote]

Some of this are conversations one might have with a coworker as they get to know each other as part of general conversation.  But I don't think any of it is appropriate as part of their training.  It's all terribly sexist and really condescending.  Most women know how to deal with these situations and will do so in their own way.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Jem on March 03, 2020, 01:00:15 pm
POD to oogyda - I was debating saying the same things.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Gellchom on March 03, 2020, 01:31:39 pm
Fortunately society is finally moving on from seeing harassment as something to teach women (primarily) how to handle to seeing it as something men (primarily) have to stop doing.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Jem on March 03, 2020, 02:41:28 pm
Fortunately society is finally moving on from seeing harassment as something to teach women (primarily) how to handle to seeing it as something men (primarily) have to stop doing.

I would argue PEOPLE need to stop harassing other PEOPLE. It bugs me to have it phrased as a "men harass women" thing. That's not always the case.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Gellchom on March 03, 2020, 03:30:50 pm
Quote
In African culture it is considered rude not to properly greet first and ask the other person how they are.

Collakat, don't you mean "South African culture"? "Africa" is a pretty big place, with many different cultures.

And every culture has its own norms, which often they don't even fully articulate to themselves until people from somewhere else come along and violate them. For example, in France nobody expects or wants waitstaff or retail staff to ask complete strangers how they are, or wish them a nice day, still less ask them what plans they have for the weekend, heaven forbid! But if you walk into a smallish shop (i.e. not a supermarket) and don't greet everyone there, both staff and other customers, with 'Bonjour, m'sieurs-dames' ('Good day, ladies and gentlemen'), you are ill-mannered.

I do pick it up from our neighboring countries and friends from other (more north) African countries also.  So that is why I said African as opposed to South African. However, we are seen as a friendly nation  ;D

I think this is common in other cultures, too.  We were an "anchor family" for an immigrant family from what was then the Soviet Union many years ago.  When the wife would call with a question, she would first ask several questions about the family, work, etc.  I would usually wish she would stop beating around the bush and just ask whatever it was she called about!  But I learned from that that where they came from (Moldova), it would be considered rude and abrupt to get down to business without some social chat first.  I also realized that if someone just started right in with, "I need to ask you about XYZ" without at least a "Hi, how are you?" then *I* would consider *that* abrupt.  We each were used to different customs.

So it's all a question of degree and social convention.  That's a big reason, beyond personal feelings, that our experiences and preferences differ.  Where I live, it's very common for strangers to chitchat a bit, and pleasantries are the rule, not the exception.  Where Toots lives (and I once did), not so much.  What is standard in one place is either too chatty or too abrupt in the other.

But in any case, it's never really a question about health or really wondering about your Valentine's Day.  It's just pleasantries.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Aleko on March 04, 2020, 01:56:15 am
My father spent his teens in East Africa, and told me that among the Kikuyu people, if you're in your hut and see a stranger or a not-friend approaching you come out to greet them, get introduced, enquire after their health, blah blah. Which all seems very polite, but is actually keeping them out of your home until you have sized them up and decided if you want to invite them over your threshold. But if you see a relation or a real friend coming you carry on doing exactly what you were doing, and let them walk right into your hut and sit down before you put down your task and say hello. That shows your complete trust and acceptance of them.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Hmmm on March 04, 2020, 09:14:48 am
My father spent his teens in East Africa, and told me that among the Kikuyu people, if you're in your hut and see a stranger or a not-friend approaching you come out to greet them, get introduced, enquire after their health, blah blah. Which all seems very polite, but is actually keeping them out of your home until you have sized them up and decided if you want to invite them over your threshold. But if you see a relation or a real friend coming you carry on doing exactly what you were doing, and let them walk right into your hut and sit down before you put down your task and say hello. That shows your complete trust and acceptance of them.

Sort of like neighbors of old coming in through your back door with a quick knock versus a stranger or mere acquaintance coming to your homes front door and ringing the doorbell.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Gellchom on March 04, 2020, 03:07:24 pm
My father spent his teens in East Africa, and told me that among the Kikuyu people, if you're in your hut and see a stranger or a not-friend approaching you come out to greet them, get introduced, enquire after their health, blah blah. Which all seems very polite, but is actually keeping them out of your home until you have sized them up and decided if you want to invite them over your threshold. But if you see a relation or a real friend coming you carry on doing exactly what you were doing, and let them walk right into your hut and sit down before you put down your task and say hello. That shows your complete trust and acceptance of them.

Sort of like neighbors of old coming in through your back door with a quick knock versus a stranger or mere acquaintance coming to your homes front door and ringing the doorbell.
Not just sort of like -- exactly like! 

We wouldn't invite a stranger in, either, certainly not immediately.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: peony on March 13, 2020, 10:09:31 am
My father spent his teens in East Africa, and told me that among the Kikuyu people, if you're in your hut and see a stranger or a not-friend approaching you come out to greet them, get introduced, enquire after their health, blah blah. Which all seems very polite, but is actually keeping them out of your home until you have sized them up and decided if you want to invite them over your threshold. But if you see a relation or a real friend coming you carry on doing exactly what you were doing, and let them walk right into your hut and sit down before you put down your task and say hello. That shows your complete trust and acceptance of them.

This makes a lot of sense!
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: Shores on May 28, 2020, 12:48:45 pm
So it’s better to not acknowledge callers as fellow human beings deserving of minimal courtesy and kindness?  Got it.
Title: Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
Post by: peony on May 31, 2020, 03:05:37 pm
So it’s better to not acknowledge callers as fellow human beings deserving of minimal courtesy and kindness?  Got it.

Gellchom has summed it up, and I'm going to keep this in mind for myself when I start to judge others by the quality of their greeting, or lack of same: "What is standard in one place is either too chatty or too abrupt in the other."