Author Topic: Etiquette of interrupting a phone call  (Read 2489 times)

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CrazyDaffodilLady

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Etiquette of interrupting a phone call
« on: August 13, 2013, 02:34:43 PM »
A quasi-friend has a bad habit of talking to other people while she’s on the phone with me.  She gives no warning that she’s going to address someone else, so it seems like she’s speaking to me, but making no sense, and when I go “what?”, she snipes, “I wasn’t talking to you”.

Yesterday I reached my limit.  As soon as she said, “I wasn’t talking to you”, I said “Then I’ll catch you later” and hung up.  Before the connection ended, I could hear her starting to sputter.

I think it will be necessary for me to discuss this behavior with her in order to curtail it. I’ve made up a list of rules and would like ehell feedback.

1. Speaking to Person2 while you’re on the phone with Person1 should be done rarely and only for good reason.

2. The interruption should be announced with a statement like “Excuse me for a second” or “Hold on a sec”.

3. To avoid confusion, the interrupting conversation should be addressed by name to the person it’s intended for.  Example: “Mom, you forgot your keys”. 

4. When talking to another person, the caller should cover the mouthpiece of the phone or hold the phone away from her mouth.

5. The interruption should last no longer than a few seconds.  If more time is needed, the call should be politely ended.

6. Upon returning to the call, the caller should briefly apologize – something as simple as “sorry about that”. 

Suggestions?  Opinions?
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Zizi-K

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Re: Etiquette of interrupting a phone call
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2013, 02:39:08 PM »
I would not approach your friend with this list of rules, it's OTT. Just say that you've noticed she's made a habit of addressing other people while on the phone with you, and it's confusing, because she doesn't make it clear who she's speaking to. Say that you're happy to chat on the phone to catch up/arrange bridge club/whatever, but that if she needs to have a conversation with someone else, you'd prefer to get off the phone. Since it clearly does annoy her for you to say "what?" then I would keep doing that, and then respond to "I wasn't talking to you!" with, "how would I know that? I can see you need to deal with something at home, so I'll let you go."

SlitherHiss

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Re: Etiquette of interrupting a phone call
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2013, 02:42:11 PM »
I'd leave out the list of rules, personally. That'd just make it seem like a lecture, which is unlikely to net the desired results. (I presume the desired results are to modify her behavior without scuppering any friendship, quasi or not)

Maybe just start saying "It doesn't seem like this is a good time for you. Why don't you finish your other conversation and give me a call back. Bye!". Make sure you say this with a smile in your voice.

Or, if you really want a conversation with her about it, you could say "Mary, I know I got off the phone quickly the other day, and I wanted to talk to you about it. Half the time we're on the phone together, I'm not sure if you're talking to me or having an outside conversation. It makes me feel like you aren't really engaged with our conversation. What can we do about it?" and then let her respond. She may not realize she's doing it. She may not realize that it bothers you. She may know and not care. But in any case, it'll open things up for you to actually discuss it.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Etiquette of interrupting a phone call
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2013, 02:49:04 PM »
Are you indicating you plan to submit a list of rules to her? I think that is OTT.

I had a friend who worked in a cubicle and she enjoyed calling and chatting with me at work. Since she used a headset, most people couldn't tell she was on the phone. Co-workers would routinely walk up to her and ask questions and she'd start answering them. I was pretty good and knowing that she was talking to someone else and usually didn't care. But sometimes I could tell their exchange wasn't going to be once sentence so I'd just announce "It sounds like your busy. I'll talk to you later." and then just hang up.

So instead of trying to correct her behavior, just address yours. Stop holding on and as soon as you realize she is conversing with someone else say "I'll talk to you later when your not busy. Bye".

MindsEye

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Re: Etiquette of interrupting a phone call
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2013, 02:55:56 PM »
I wouldn't bother handing over a list of rules.

Just keep hanging up when she starts to talk to someone else.

Eventually she will get the point.

Goosey

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Re: Etiquette of interrupting a phone call
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2013, 02:58:20 PM »
Handing a list of rules would be condescending (I assume this is another adult).

Just say that you find it difficult to talk to her when she's splitting her attention.

AmethystAnne

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Re: Etiquette of interrupting a phone call
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2013, 03:11:26 PM »
OP, I like what you told your somewhat-friend, "then I'll catch you later" before hanging up on her.




TootsNYC

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Re: Etiquette of interrupting a phone call
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2013, 03:13:57 PM »
I would not approach your friend with this list of rules, it's OTT. Just say that you've noticed she's made a habit of addressing other people while on the phone with you, and it's confusing, because she doesn't make it clear who she's speaking to. Say that you're happy to chat on the phone to catch up/arrange bridge club/whatever, but that if she needs to have a conversation with someone else, you'd prefer to get off the phone. Since it clearly does annoy her for you to say "what?" then I would keep doing that, and then respond to "I wasn't talking to you!" with, "how would I know that? I can see you need to deal with something at home, so I'll let you go."

I agree.

You're not the one to pronounce "rules."

But you can certainly say, "I find it confusing, and I'd prefer not to deal with it. I understand you might be busy, and so I'll simply get out of your way."

And then just do what you've done, every time. She'll figure it out. Or, you'll have shorter and fewer conversations with her, which will cut your personal annoyance factor WAY down.

Don't *state* your boundaries; live them.

If you want to LIVE by your rules, I'd tell you that they are great one. They are a terrific guideline for phone courtesy, and I would encourage you to follow them yourself and to teach any children you might have to follow them as well.

MrTango

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Re: Etiquette of interrupting a phone call
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2013, 03:26:19 PM »
My personal rule is that if I'm on the phone, then I'm talking to the person on the other end of the phone.  Unless there's a true emergency*, I will not allow that call to be interrupted on my end.

If I'm on the other end, I think the tactic of "Okay, I'll catch up with you later" is fine.

ETA:
*As a former 9-1-1 dispatcher, my definition of a true emergency is somewhat restrictive.

m2kbug

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Re: Etiquette of interrupting a phone call
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2013, 03:35:07 PM »
I don't think that a list of rules is going to go over well.  How about you just say:

"It sounds like you're busy, why don't you call me back when there isn't so much going on?" 

"It sounds like you're busy, let me call you back later.  What time is a good time?"

She might say she's available and can talk now to which you may respond something like, "It sounds like you need to deal with some things, we can talk when you're finished." 

She really shouldn't be on the phone talking to you if she has other obligations and cannot give you her full attention.  I have been on both ends of this situation, and depending on the rel@tionship and my own personal tolerance, I either trudge through interruptions or I end the call.  My tolerance level on interruptions may vary.  I don't make phone calls if I have other things I need to deal with.  If someone calls me at a less than opportune time, unless I can put the other obligation aside, it's better to let them know now is not the best time to talk, let's touch base later. 

I agree, when dealing with the occasional interruption, letting the other person on the phone know you are talking to someone else is best.  Certainly don't snap at them as if they know the conversation just shifted in a different direction to some unseen and unknown entity on the other end of a phone wire.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2013, 03:41:48 PM by m2kbug »

m2kbug

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Re: Etiquette of interrupting a phone call
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2013, 03:39:01 PM »
Oops. looks like I double posted.

CrazyDaffodilLady

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Re: Etiquette of interrupting a phone call
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2013, 04:21:26 PM »
O.P. here.  I wasn't actually planning to hand her the list of rules; I was trying to figure out exactly what is polite in the situation and use that as a guideline. 

I have reasons for not wanting to cut Quasi-Friend (QF) out of my life, but she is socially clueless and does a number of things that annoy the heck out of me.  In the past, she has responded surprisingly well to the direct approach, although there's always the possibility of drama.  It feels a little PA to keep abruptly ending calls, however politely.  Right now I expect she's upset with me, after I did it once.  She probably thinks I was the rude one.

The important thing is that I stop her behavior soon, as I'm close to snapping at her.
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cwm

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Re: Etiquette of interrupting a phone call
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2013, 04:42:28 PM »
Why don't you talk to her about it, then? Don't hand down a whole list of rules, but just mention that her behavior is affecting you.

"Friend, I've noticed that when we're on the phone, you'll also talk to other people. It's confusing for me because I can't tell you're talking to someone else. If it's important enough that you need to have that conversation and call me back, that's fine, but please don't try to have two conversations at once. I have a hard time following it all."

It's a polite way to let her know exactly why you hung up before and bring it to her attention that it bothers you without seeming like you're trying to set down a list of rules for her to follow.

LazyDaisy

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Re: Etiquette of interrupting a phone call
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2013, 04:51:28 PM »
I think that continuing to hang up each time she does it without some explanation is unlikely to change her behavior and more likely to cause her to think you are the rude one. I wouldn't call them rules but I actually don't see any reason why you can't tell her how you expect to be treated.

I would have this conversation with her in person: "Friend I'm having a hard time during phone conversations with you. When you abruptly start speaking to someone else who I can't see, I have no idea that you aren't speaking to me. I find this very confusing and then you snap at me. Which I find rude. From now on, when you are on the telephone with me, please refrain from having other conversations. I understand if there is an emergency and you need to excuse yourself from our conversation, but please don't assume I know what you're doing unless you tell me. If you can't give me your undivided attention during our phone call, I'll need to hang up and talk to you at a later time." This makes the rules about what you need rather than that she's doing something all wrong.
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LadyJaneinMD

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Re: Etiquette of interrupting a phone call
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2013, 12:25:33 PM »
Honestly, I think you did the right thing.     I wouldn't mind the 'talking to someone else' thing - it can be kind of funny sometimes.  But, when she snipes at you  for saying, 'What?'  - that's it.  I'd be over at that point too.

You said the right thing.  If she wants to make a big deal out of it, that's her problem, not yours.  If she wants to talk about it, then talk.  Don't accuse, just say that you hate the confused feeling you get when she says something that doesn't mesh with what you were just talking about.  Have a good laugh about it someday.  But DO NOT apologize.  You did nothing wrong.