Author Topic: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work  (Read 2261 times)

DaDancingPsych

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Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
« Reply #15 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.
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lowspark

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Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
« Reply #16 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.
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Hmmm

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Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2020, 02:53:16 pm »
I find it very weird.

Where I work, itís 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".
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PVZFan

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Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2020, 03:17:07 pm »
I find it very weird.

Where I work, itís 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.
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Hmmm

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Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2020, 03:29:32 pm »
I find it very weird.

Where I work, itís 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?
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TootsNYC

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Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
« Reply #20 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?"
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Jem

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Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
« Reply #21 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.

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Hmmm

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Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
« Reply #22 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.
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PVZFan

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Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
« Reply #23 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.  ::) )

Gellchom

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Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
« Reply #24 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.
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Jem

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Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
« Reply #25 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.
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Hmmm

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Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
« Reply #26 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.
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Gellchom

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Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
« Reply #27 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 ďhow are you?Ē  They said, ďNo, of course not, I like itĒ ó they were both surprised by the question, in fact.  But I think that thatís a function of regional custom; itís just very common here.

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

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Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
« Reply #28 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 ďhow are you?Ē  They said, ďNo, of course not, I like itĒ ó they were both surprised by the question, in fact.  But I think that thatís a function of regional custom; itís just very common here.

So there it is, I think ó itís a social convention, which means itís not to be taken literally.  Hmmmís 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 wouldnít tell them the truth and risk upsetting the client. I can voice my opinion here because itís private and likely wonít affect my business.

collakat

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Re: Is This Weird? - Pleasantries in Phone Calls at Work
« Reply #29 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.
Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.Ē― C.S. Lewis
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