Article posted Thursday, March 27, 2014 10:07am

Dear Mary Pat,

I have noticed a trend lately with bad phone manners. Without getting too specific, I call a lot of people at work, scheduling things and confirming dates, stuff like that. Keep in mind that these are people that my company hires and they get paid by us for the work they do. Apart from basic manners, I would think that they would be pleasant on the phone if for no other reason than all the business we give them. Sadly, that is not the case.

A lot of the conversations are strangely identical and go like this, “Hi, is this Joe Schmo? (then there is a grunt of agreement), this is Jane Doe calling about so and so this weekend.” And then 85% of the time I get a “Yeah?” in response. Yeah? What kind of answer is that? How about “Oh, hi! How are you? ” or “How can I help you?”

It’s gotten to the point where I feel like we should seek out other vendors or make them take some kind of etiquette test before we hire them. Is this common? I don’t think I’m being too sensitive here.



Sister Bay, WI

Dear Jane,

No, I do not think you are being too sensitive. From your description I gather that you are not confirming appointments for a dentist. (Not that I would excuse this kind of behavior in this instance, however, I could see where that would be an unwelcome call. No one wants to get a call about their root canal.) It also doesn’t seem like you are a bill collector or a telemarketer. I’m sure that they suffer from 8,000 rude responses throughout the day. So, you have given me no inclination that your calls would put people on edge so to speak.

Therefore, they seem to be suffering from laziness and rudeness. I agree that it would not take much effort for them to be nice to you. My third grade teacher didn’t accept “Yeah” as a response, neither should you. Maybe the next time you hear “Yeah,” you should kill them with kindness and small talk just so they try to get the picture. If this doesn’t work, make sure that they do appreciate your business before throwing any more of it their way.

Good luck,

Mary Pat