Friday, March 21, 2014

Hello, Hello?

Regular readers of my blog are probably well aware that I hate talking on the phone.

Let me drop everything and work on your problem T-shirt
In the past, my phone phobia was mostly limited to calling other people on it, but lately, I have discovered reasons to dislike answering it as well. At work, phone interruptions annoy me because they are never conveniently timed, always interrupting me unnecessarily when I'm trying to concentrate on something. In my mind, work-related phone calls should be for emergencies only—everything else can wait for an email.

However, now I've found a way to find fault with personal phone calls as well. Specifically, the hellos.

When I pick up the phone, I answer "Hello?" Now that I think about it, now that caller ID is ubiquitous, why we are still answering our phones with a question? Why not something more like, "Hello, Bob!"? Now that I think about it, I might be the only one I know who does answer my phone with a question. My male friends seem to pick up with a "yo." But that is beside the point. The point is, that's how I answer my phone. "Hello?"

What drives me bonkers is when the voice on the other end then replies, "Hello?" And waits for me to talk.

What are you, an echo? Did you not hear me? Have you forgotten that you called me and should probably have something to say?

At this point, I can choose to either start the conversation, which is difficult because I don't know what the caller wanted to talk to me about, or to join them in their game—I just ask "Hello" again, which usually results in the other person asking "Hello" and me asking "Hello" and them asking "Hello," which gets very tedious after several rounds. I've done this with several people, and I'm always the one to get bored first and finally break the cycle with a different question (like a cheery "What's up?" while in my head, I'm snarling "What do you want?"). It annoys me that the caller has forced me into a position where I must make the first move.

Obviously, I can do little to change the rude behavior of my callers, although I could just ask point-blank, "Why are you asking me hello again?" Maybe there's something going on that I don't understand. But even if I get to the bottom of it with one caller, it won't prevent the same thing from happening with others.

Maybe the answer is to change the way I answer. "Yo" seems to work well for my friends. I never hear them getting into hello matches on the phone. But yo is not really my style. Maybe "Hello, Bob!" is the way to go. How do you answer your phone?


Adrienne Wiley said...

I can't help but think I'm reading the work of a fellow introvert here! You made me laugh with your precise description of the back-and-forth that I, too, dread.

Kristi Lonheim said...

If this happens here I know it is a wrong number and someone for whom English is not their native language. Often by the third 'hello' I just want to hang up, but I have learned that if I don't convince them that it is the wrong number they will just hit redial and we start all over.