Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: CakeBeret on March 31, 2013, 10:55:06 AM

Title: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: CakeBeret on March 31, 2013, 10:55:06 AM
This happened on Friday, and I'd like to get some opinions on how I can handle it better next time.

I was the last one in the office, closing up, and the phone rang at 4:58 PM. I would have been within my rights to ignore it, but I went ahead and answered. *bangs head on desk*

I answered the phone and was greeted by Chatty Cathy, with whom we've dealt several times in the past. Some days Cathy is a raging pain-in-the-butt, some days she is perfectly polite and even friendly.

Here is approximately how the call went:

Chatty Cathy: Can I talk to Boss, please?
Me: Boss is already gone for the day, may I take a message?
CC: Why is she gone for the day? It's not time to go home yet!
Me: *chuckle* I guess when you're the boss, you have those privileges.
[Note that this is a common banter in our industry and my "when you're the boss" line is approved by my boss.]
CC: Well, I own Chatty Cathy Emporium and *I* don't leave early.
Me: Can I take a message for Boss to call you back?
[insert roundabout conversation with CC insisting that she is a hard worker and doesn't see why Boss should be leaving early, while I concur with her and ask her to leave a message]
CC: I've been at work since 7AM this morning and I won't be able to leave until at least 8PM.
Me: That's admirable. Can I take a message for Boss?
CC: Admirable? That's not how my husband would describe it. He doesn't appreciate blah blah blah...
Me: I'll have Boss call you Monday. Have a great weekend. Goodbye.

And by that time I was, of course, late leaving. :P Was there any way I could have shut down Chatty Cathy earlier?
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: Zilla on March 31, 2013, 11:01:15 AM
Knowing she is chatty, I would just said to her why did Boss leave with, 'Not sure, and I'm leaving now that it's closingtime.  I will tell boys to call you Monday.  Have a good one!'

And if she persists in chatting you can tell her you really have to go and will give boss the message.  I know you said it's standard banner but with you in a hurry, it's best to be professional and not debate why.
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: PastryGoddess on March 31, 2013, 11:20:43 PM
Don't chat or make jokes.  Don't respond to her jokes or stories, just keep repeating the same thing over and over again. Basically keep it neutrally professional and get her off the phone
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: Nebulous on April 01, 2013, 12:49:46 AM
I would try to use the phrase, "Sorry, boss is unavailable but I'd be happy to take a message." So you're not specifically saying Boss left early and can (hopefully) head off that particular subject matter.

But I'm sure CC would find other things to chat about, and not always be calling at the end of the day. I POD the previous posters to not engage in any way (if you banter, she'll banter). After you address her reason for calling, just keep asking if you can assist her with anything else and repeat as necessary. If she keeps chatting, maybe go with a simple, "thanks for calling, I'll be sure to (address whatever it is she's calling about), but I have to get going as I have an appointment (or another phone call, deadline you have to meet, etc), good bye."
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: Twik on April 01, 2013, 09:38:35 AM
The worst phonecalls always happen within 15 minutes of closing time, on Friday. It's an unwritten rule. I start like a frightened rabbit when the phone rings during that period.
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: bah12 on April 01, 2013, 09:55:46 AM
I would have just started with "Boss is unavailable.  I'll leave a message for you."  If she continues to ask "where?  why? but I'm available!", then just repeat. "I'm not sure.  Boss isn't available and I'll be happy to take a message."

With chatty people, you don't want to leave openings for them to carry on the conversation.  So, jokes, comments on what they've said, etc. usually isn't the greatest way to end a conversation with them.
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: Hmmmmm on April 01, 2013, 10:19:48 AM
Honestly, if I answer a phone 2 mintues before I'm to leave, I'm going to assume it will take 5 min at a minimum. If you were in a hurry to leave, I think not making the initial joke about boss or even mentioning that boss has left for the day would be the best way to keep the conversation short.

Chatty Cathy: Can I talk to Boss, please?
You: Boss is not available this afternoon.  I'll take a message and have her call you Monday.  Is there a best time for her to reach you Monday?
CC: Where is Boss?
You: I'm not sure of the specifics, but I'll make sure she gets the message to call you Monday. Have a nice weekend. Bye.
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: TootsNYC on April 01, 2013, 11:05:01 AM

Here is approximately how the call went:

Chatty Cathy: Can I talk to Boss, please?
Me: Boss is already gone for the day, not available;may I take a message?
CC: Why is she gone for the day? It's not time to go home yet!
Me: *chuckle* I guess when you're the boss, you have those privileges.
[Note that this is a common banter in our industry and my "when you're the boss" line is approved by my boss.]
CC: Well, I own Chatty Cathy Emporium and *I* don't leave early.
Me: Can I take a message for Boss to call you back?
[insert roundabout conversation with CC insisting that she is a hard worker and doesn't see why Boss should be leaving early, while I concur with her and ask her to leave a message]
CC: I've been at work since 7AM this morning and I won't be able to leave until at least 8PM.
Me: That's admirable. Can I take a message for Boss?
CC: Admirable? That's not how my husband would describe it. He doesn't appreciate blah blah blah...
Me: I'll have Boss call you Monday. Have a great weekend. Goodbye.



Train yourself--never tell where the boss (or whoever) is. The only thing the caller needs to know is that the person is/isn't available and will/won't be available soon.

Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: artk2002 on April 01, 2013, 11:55:08 AM
I agree with Toots that "not available" is a better response in situations like this. The caller doesn't need any more detail than "sorry, you can't talk to Boss right now."

The other thing is refusing to engage on irrelevant topics. The fact that the caller has this amazing work ethic isn't relevant. Trying to defend the Boss in the face of that attitude is a complete waste of everyone's time.

Chatty: Hi, it's Chatty. I'd like to speak to Boss, please.
OP: I'm sorry, Boss isn't available. May I take a message?
Chatty: What, it's only 4:59! I've been up since oh-dark-thirty and I'll be working until my husband divorces me. How can Boss not be available?
OP: Was there any message other than you called?
Chatty: He has to be here. Get him on the phone that lazy bum!
OP: I'll pass the message on. Have a great day. Bye! *click*

Remember this: You do not need the other person's permission to end the call!  Too many people get stuck in pointless calls because they feel that the other person has to let them go. It is not rude to end the call. (Nota bene: Rude people will accuse you of being rude in this situation, but they're just being aggressive because they didn't get what they wanted.)
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: TootsNYC on April 01, 2013, 02:12:47 PM
I actually tried to make that point that in ANY situation (not just in situations like this), you should just tell people that someone is unavailable.

Other people really don't need or deserve the info that your boss is in a meeting, has left already, is at lunch, etc.

And yes, you can end the call--and control it in the meantime, as Art has suggested.
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: CakeBeret on April 01, 2013, 02:21:47 PM
Thanks for the advice. It's often difficult for me to figure these things out, because I work in a very informal, casual industry where phone etiquette is sorely lacking. (Seriously, I've called someplace, asked to speak to Bob and been told that Bob is "out back takin' a leak" before.)

I will stop giving reasons and start simply saying that Boss is unavailable.
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: reflection5 on April 01, 2013, 02:23:52 PM

In situations like this telling a caller someone has left for the day or hasn’t come in/returned from lunch yet leads to all kinds of speculation, raised eyebrows and gossip.  You don’t owe this woman an explanation.  If boss wants to justify himself/herself that’s on him/her.

After the second “Do you want to leave a message?” (or do you want vm?) I’d just say "I have to go.  Goodbye.”
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: doodlemor on April 01, 2013, 02:47:38 PM
This is a very informal idea, and not really "professional," but it might work in some situations.

Perhaps you could say......

You'll have to excuse me now - I see that my ride home is waiting outside.  Or.........

Gotta go, the car pool just pulled up out front.

I used to work with a man who used the car pool excuse **a lot,** and generally the other rider was just his wife.  Never could figure out why anyone but up with it, but they did.
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: artk2002 on April 01, 2013, 03:39:38 PM
This is a very informal idea, and not really "professional," but it might work in some situations.

Perhaps you could say......

You'll have to excuse me now - I see that my ride home is waiting outside.  Or.........

Gotta go, the car pool just pulled up out front.

I used to work with a man who used the car pool excuse **a lot,** and generally the other rider was just his wife.  Never could figure out why anyone but up with it, but they did.

See my point above. There's absolutely no need to make up an excuse (or even use a legitimate one) to end a conversation. You have determined that there is no more information to be exchanged in the conversation so you get to end it. Don't make yourself a prisoner of etiquette, afraid to stop the conversation because the other person hasn't given you leave.
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: whatsanenigma on April 01, 2013, 03:50:31 PM
I agree with the overall sentiments in this thread but I just wanted to add that personally, I say that "So and So is out of the office right now" as opposed to "unavailable".  I don't know why, but I am just more comfortable with the former than the latter.  Just offering another wording option for you there!
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: YummyMummy66 on April 01, 2013, 07:19:24 PM
Honestly, I think you could have shut Chatty Cathy down earlier by not being so chatty yourself.

When, she stated, "Why is she gone for the day?", all you needed to do was reply in a way that does not initiate further replies and "Would you like me to take a message?" repeated again.

Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: BeagleMommy on April 03, 2013, 02:51:28 PM
I usually tell people that my boss is unavailable or away from his desk and that I'll take a message.  If they ask where he is I respond with "I don't have access to that information, may I take a message?"

The more information you give people like Chatty Cathy, the more they want to chat.
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: Kimberami on April 04, 2013, 03:55:52 PM
I actually tried to make that point that in ANY situation (not just in situations like this), you should just tell people that someone is unavailable.

Other people really don't need or deserve the info that your boss is in a meeting, has left already, is at lunch, etc.

And yes, you can end the call--and control it in the meantime, as Art has suggested.
POD
The first time I'll give the caller the option to leave a message.  The second time I'll say "I'll be sure to let him/her know that you've called.  I hope you have a nice day/evening/weekend" in a bright & friendly voice and the call is over. 
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: reflection5 on April 04, 2013, 04:08:50 PM
Looking at this again, I agree more with artk2002 and YummyMummy66.

OP, you volunteered too much information, which led to the caller taking it and running with it:

Quote
Chatty Cathy: Can I talk to Boss, please?
Me: Boss is already gone for the day, may I take a message?
CC: Why is she gone for the day? It's not time to go home yet!
Me: *chuckle* I guess when you're the boss, you have those privileges. [Note that this is a common banter in our industry and my "when you're the boss" line is approved by my boss.]

Common banter or not, you escalated it, imo.

Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: Raintree on April 08, 2013, 02:55:15 AM
Looking at this again, I agree more with artk2002 and YummyMummy66.

OP, you volunteered too much information, which led to the caller taking it and running with it:

Quote
Chatty Cathy: Can I talk to Boss, please?
Me: Boss is already gone for the day, may I take a message?
CC: Why is she gone for the day? It's not time to go home yet!
Me: *chuckle* I guess when you're the boss, you have those privileges. [Note that this is a common banter in our industry and my "when you're the boss" line is approved by my boss.]

Common banter or not, you escalated it, imo.

I agree, but I guess the OP had no way of knowing it would lead to a tirade about how hard Chatty Cathy works. Most normal people would respond to that last line with "OK then, can you have Boss call me on Monday?" I think once CC launched into how amazing she was for being up since O'Dark Thirty, it was time to cut her off and say, "OK, I'll let Boss know you called. Bye"
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: blueyzca01 on April 22, 2013, 11:30:16 AM
Another option is to train yourself not to answer the phone between 4:57 and 5:00; that's when these calls come in, and it's NEVER a quick call.

I used to work for Enterprise RAC, and we had to answer the phone at 5:59, but at 6:00 we would yell at a co-worker if we could tell they were reaching for a ringing phone.
Because any call that came in right at 6:00 usually meant a customer pickup from Timbuktu**

Now, when I hear the phone ringing at 4:57, I let it go to voicemail.  I've saved myself from a ton of hassles. 

**for those unfamiliar, Enterprise's slogan is "We'll pick you up!" 
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: reflection5 on April 22, 2013, 03:59:25 PM
Another option is to train yourself not to answer the phone between 4:57 and 5:00; that's when these calls come in, and it's NEVER a quick call.

I used to work for Enterprise RAC, and we had to answer the phone at 5:59, but at 6:00 we would yell at a co-worker if we could tell they were reaching for a ringing phone.
Because any call that came in right at 6:00 usually meant a customer pickup from Timbuktu**

Now, when I hear the phone ringing at 4:57, I let it go to voicemail.  I've saved myself from a ton of hassles. 

**for those unfamiliar, Enterprise's slogan is "We'll pick you up!"

This might upset some bosses and clients.  “The office is open until 5:00.  Quitting time is 5:00, and you’re paid to answer the phone even if it rings at 4:59”.
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: Winterlight on April 22, 2013, 08:24:26 PM
I agree with the overall sentiments in this thread but I just wanted to add that personally, I say that "So and So is out of the office right now" as opposed to "unavailable".  I don't know why, but I am just more comfortable with the former than the latter.  Just offering another wording option for you there!

I have found that "out of the office" works better for dealing with people than "unavailable." I think it's because some people hear that as "He's here but doesn't want to speak to you."
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: Mannerless on April 23, 2013, 09:41:29 AM
Another option is to train yourself not to answer the phone between 4:57 and 5:00; that's when these calls come in, and it's NEVER a quick call.

I used to work for Enterprise RAC, and we had to answer the phone at 5:59, but at 6:00 we would yell at a co-worker if we could tell they were reaching for a ringing phone.
Because any call that came in right at 6:00 usually meant a customer pickup from Timbuktu**

Now, when I hear the phone ringing at 4:57, I let it go to voicemail.  I've saved myself from a ton of hassles. 

**for those unfamiliar, Enterprise's slogan is "We'll pick you up!"

You may save yourself a ton of hassles, but what might you be costing your company?
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: blueyzca01 on April 23, 2013, 11:49:31 AM
Well, considering that I now work for a company that requires me to clock out at 5:00pm, and I've gotten verbal warnings for clocking out at 5:04pm without obtaining prior permission...I'd say I'm fine with it.

I've answered the phone at 4:55, and proceeded to help the caller with something important to him (not necessarily critical for the company), then tried to find my supervisor to let her know that I would be clocking out past 5:00.  Couldn't find her, clocked out at 5:04 (because incorrect timecard reporting is grounds for termination), then received a verbal warning. 

No thanks, I'm done with that.
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: Minmom3 on April 23, 2013, 09:14:38 PM
I think, purely my personal, non management opinion - if companies are going to be punitive about time card punches like that, then they have to expect that kind of cut off prior to closing time.  Nobody on a time clock should EVER work off the clock, we don't work that way in the U.S..  To tell somebody they must be fully helpful and answer the phones up to the minute of closing, BUT don't clock out late or you'll get slapped - that means that either somebody who never answered that phone from Chatty Cathy at the last minute of the day and does not understand how the caller can go on and on and on drafted that rule - OR they want the employee to work for free, and the time of free labor is well in the past. 

1)  I can answer the phone when it rings and deal with the person on the other end with patience and forbearance, and clock out when the call is over and handled.
2) I can stop answering the phone a few minutes before TIME, and clock out on time, and keep my behind out of hot water with management or corporate.

I cannot do both.
Title: Re: Irritating caller 2 minutes before closing time
Post by: blueyzca01 on April 24, 2013, 10:58:50 AM
Exactly!!  I couldn't have worded it better myself.