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It's funny.  Laugh. Communications

How To Make Friends on the Telephone 327

Posted by michael
from the miss-manners dept.
Dan writes "What a wonderful find--it seems since the internet, we've forgotten the correct way to communicate with people. So here is a book to teach us the proper etiquette, as well as how to handle complex modern communications devices."
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How To Make Friends on the Telephone

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  • talking over the phone, via e-mail is not as clear cut as body language
  • by Dreadlord (671979) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @02:52PM (#9662018) Journal
    as well as how to handle complex modern communications devices

    Dude, this is /. , if people here don't already know how to handle these things, who knows?
  • by random_culchie (759439) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @02:53PM (#9662023) Homepage Journal
    Looks like we will have to phone the webmaster and tell him he will soon been /.ed. Whats the proper way to do that?
    • who knows, the page with that info is /.ed atm
      • by cgenman (325138) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:08PM (#9662115) Homepage
        Recently a friend of ours was trying to get a ride to a party, but didn't start trying to contact us until after she was in our area. She called a few times until her cell battery died. She borrowed someone's computer at a cafe to e-mail us. She IM'ed us. She called from a payphone. She got frantic.

        She did everything but come up and ring our doorbell. Which would have worked: we were at home.

        Sometimes technology can cause people to forget the obvious ways of doing things.

        • Re:Ok, thats great (Score:3, Insightful)

          by arieswind (789699) *
          Thats great, but, if you were home.. why didnt you pick up the phone any of the times she called? or reply to her email? or respond to her IM? What may have seemed an obvious way 20 years ago, really isnt that obvious or practical anymore. If she really did try all those options and could not contact you, it would be safe to assume that either you werent home, or dont wish to be bothered.
          • Insightful? A diatribe on why being simple-minded and lazy is the fault of the person she was trying to contact? Look, if she couldn't try his house before eating a bunch of batteries and then tearing through an array of technological devices that also communicated, then she is an idiot. He may have been watching tv or otherwise away from the computer and/or the phone. Or, is it his *job* to watch out for communications from this dim-witted friend?

            Cheers!

            Erick

        • Re:Ok, thats great (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:22PM (#9662201)
          Sometimes technology can cause people to forget the obvious ways of doing things.

          She was probably trying to avoid pissing you off. Over the years, I've rarely gotten someone upset by calling them or sending them a message, but I've had many who stopped talking to me or chewed me up on the spot because I knocked on their door (yes, even when there was an emergency). Your friend had probably thought of the idea but dismissed it because she's had similar experiences.

          It's sad but most likely, your friend wasn't as much the problem as our collective attitudes tending towards anti-socialism.

          -hadohk
          • Re:Ok, thats great (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @05:00PM (#9662710)
            Well, friends that chew you out on the spot when you knock on the door in an emergency have brain problems. I would truly hesitate to call them friends, although there is another F-word that would certainly apply. Anti-social attitudes be damned: there are certain aspects of friendship that should transcend our technological debauchery. That is, unless the meaning of "friend" has been altered beyond recognition.
            • Re:Ok, thats great (Score:3, Interesting)

              by SquadBoy (167263)
              Damn straight. I'm up for shooting kids wanting to sell me candy bars in the head for knocking on my door. But anyone I like, respect, and would like to see happy (my personal working definition of friend) is more than welcome to knock on my door anytime of the day or night. Hell most of them have the code to my garage door and are welcome to walk in. So yea I'm as misanthropic as anybody but friends are friends and they should *not* be afraid to contact friends in any way they need to.
              • by geeber (520231) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @07:34PM (#9663378)
                I'm up for shooting kids wanting to sell me candy bars in the head for knocking on my door.

                Curious. I've never had anybody try to sell me a candy bar in the head before. And do they put the candy bar in the head as a result of knocking on the door? Or is the desire to sell caused by the knocking, and then the candy bar is added to the head after the fact?

                Quite an existential dilemma you have there. No wonder you just want to shoot the damn kids and be done with it.
          • Yeah - you know, I've experienced the same thing a few times, and to be honest, it's totally contradictory to the way I do things myself. I've always felt like anyone who takes the time to physically show up at my door for social reasons is making the "ultimate effort" to spend some time with me.

            If I'm on the phone when someone unexpectedly drops in, I give the visitor preference over my phone call. Only if I already have other company over do I have to give things more thought - and then I try my best t
        • I share an office with another guy.
          When he wants to tell me something, he IMs me.
        • by Insightfill (554828) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @07:49PM (#9670178) Homepage
          Recently had a coworker who told me about his experience in a parking lot.

          Seems a young woman was standing outstide her car and the remote on the keyfob (to unlock the doors) had run down its batteries. She just kept pushing the button, getting more and more frantic that she was locked out of the car. She considered even going to one of the stores at the lot and buying a battery, but didn't know what kind or how to do it.

          So my friend walks up, asks for her car keys, and sticks the key in the car door lock and turns the key.

          He said her expression was priceless.

    • Hell, it was slashdotted when I tried but even that was not without humor:
      The operation timed out when attempting to contact contactsheet.org.

      That is almost on a par with one that happened looking up something for my kid. I do not universally grant permission for cookies. So hitting keebler.com resulted in:

      The site keebler.com wants to set a cookie.

      My type of messages.

  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @02:57PM (#9662048) Homepage Journal
    but not a social life to speak of.

    Nice article there - it was to look over the pamphlet and retrospect about how far we've come communication-wise in the past few decades. We can communicate more effectively, work more productively, and get information faster.

    But I cannot say the same for the improvement in social life that technology has brought about. Sure, we have IM now, I can videoconference with my folks back home halfway across the world without paying a penny, but has it really *improved* my social life? I don't think so.

    IMHO, we communicate better with people we need to (at work) and family/friends, but we don't really end up making more friends (I won't go so far as to credit Orkut groups/etc as friends). If anything, we're spending more time in front of our screens sending and accessing messages (communicating) at the cost of social interaction.

    Maybe it's just me, but I have a feeling it's true for a lot of folks especially those around here.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:12PM (#9662142)
      I was introverted *before* I ever touched a computer. The computer lets me socialize, learn new things, and earn money. If it wasn't for computers I would probably be wandering the streets or something. I would not be as able to accept myself as I do know. Something to think about, at least.
    • The national level swing dancing scene is coordinate and enabled by Internet technology. A non-centralized group of enthusiasts organizes dances all over the US that are attended by hundreds of people.

      And if dancing with dozens of beautiful women I've never met before, and making friends all over the country, isn't a social activity? I don't know what is.

      So. The Internet is a tool. People use tools. Sometimes they use them wisely, sometimes unwisely. Why is this any different than any other innovati
  • who uses a phone? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spacerodent (790183) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:01PM (#9662069)
    prank calls are pretty much all I use a phone for nowdays. Anything important gets logged via email or some propritary messaging service the company gives out so theres no claiming you never saw/heard it or any ambigutiy in the wording. The only real use phones have is long distance talking to significant others where you want to try to get some personal touch in via voice but nowdays a webcam and voice over ip is the way to go. I don't even have long distance phone service at my house, for the few long distance calls I do make long distance I just use one of the 10-10+code series of deals.
    • This seems to address the professional aspect pretty well, but not really the personal.

      Granted, I'm 25 so using the cell to call my friends as we organize a trip to the bars or a round of golf is second nature. So, how do you handle these social things?

  • Telephone? (Score:4, Funny)

    by sirGullible (750869) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:02PM (#9662078)
    What's a "telephone"? Is it like VoIP
    • Re:Telephone? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Planesdragon (210349)
      Close. But unlike VoIP, the quality is good, and you don't need your computer to be on.

      The best VoIP services, such as Vonage and that thing Time Warner is rolling out, are desinged to work like this older "POTS" system.

      You've probably encountered this system before you had a broadband connection. It's like DSL, but the technology is much more primitive.
  • by vudufixit (581911) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:03PM (#9662082)
    Aside from the prevalence of automated attendants, I've noticed that many human operators don't seem to know how to answer with a warm greeting, ask for information, put people on hold correctly, or bridge a call to the right person.
    I've become better at handling phones simply by listening to what these people are doing wrong, and using that as a basis for improving my own phone skills.
    But on the other end as a caller, I've found it helpful to announce myself at the beginning of the call, instead of having them ask me for my name. And also to have as much information ready as possible, and present it before I'm asked, IE account numbers, customer numbers, MAC address of cable modems, etc.

    • by vxvxvxvx (745287) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:16PM (#9662161)

      You dial the number, with all info in hand.

      *ring*
      *ring*
      *ring*

      [them] Hello?
      [you] Hi, I'm having some problems with my cable modem connection. My name is Papa Smurf, account number 1234567, and the mac address on my NIC is 00:00:00:00:00:00.
      [them] Uh, what? This is Joanne's Haircare?

    • Thank goodness my days at the call centers are over for now (doing gardening for the summer:).

      You are, however, completely incorrect in your kind advice: most call center operators in the financial sectors (banks, credit cards, insurance) are not really allowed to accept any information that you provide without prompting. This is done to prevent fraud and to ensure the operator will get correct data from the customer (it's hard to recall if the client said 3456 or 3546 when they've rattled off their SSN, m
    • But on the other end as a caller, I've found it helpful to announce myself at the beginning of the call, instead of having them ask me for my name.

      Yeeearrgh. This drives me crazy. When you receive a wrong number call and the person says, "Well who's this?" I automatically respond with "Who's calling please". I usually get this from disgruntled cell-phone users who are near the US/Canadian border and they dial a local call, and pick up a cell station in the other country. They tell me the number they
    • by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @05:01PM (#9662716) Homepage
      "I've noticed that many human operators don't seem to know how to answer with a warm greeting, ask for information, put people on hold correctly, or bridge a call to the right person."

      Perhaps they have different phone customs in India?

  • Is it polite (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teamhasnoi (554944) <.teamhasnoi. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:04PM (#9662093) Homepage Journal
    to post some unsuspecting person's phone number on a well trafficked bulletin board and have 250,000 people try and call at the same time?

    Just wondering.

  • I know a lot of Slashdotters are in school, so listen up and let Unc' Jim tell you something that you'll need to know in the real world, with, like, a job and stuff:

    When you are at work, in your office or cubicle or whatever, and the telephone rings, and you answer it...under NO circumstances is it appropriate for the first word out of your mouth to be "Hello?"

    Work is not home. Learn it. Live it. Love it.

    • Is that because of the punctuation?

      Is "Hello" okay? As a statement?

      What about "Hello, you've reached Freegeek, this is Matthew speaking, how may I help you today?"
    • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:29PM (#9662236) Homepage
      When you are at work, in your office or cubicle or whatever, and the telephone rings, and you answer it...under NO circumstances is it appropriate for the first word out of your mouth to be "Hello?"

      No? How about just plain "WHAT!" or "FUCK YOU" and a nice healthy SLAM! Or "DUDE! I'm, like, in the MIDDLE of some serious SHIT. Call back." But not "Hello"? How about "Hi, how are you, I have gas"? I mean, a suggestion as to why "hello" is so bad, or some alternatives might be nice.

      Seriously, "Hello" followed by perhaps your name or department is JUST FINE.

    • by Sexy Bern (596779) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:40PM (#9662295)
      I worked in Germany for a while. I wasn't told that the convention there is to answer the phone and merely state your surname.

      First day, didn't know everybody's name. Phone rings, German geezer answers the phone and simply says "tits"!!

      Different phone rings, another geezer answers, says what sounded "fuck"!

      Me starts to think this is the Stuttgart office of the Tourette's society. Later learn that their names were "Titze" and "Foerch".

      Oh, how we laughed.

      Ha ha.

    • I hate places that don't answer the phone with something like "Hello". I typed in the phone number, so I already know where I'm calling. I don't need to wait five minutes for you to ramble off the name of your company or similar information I could care less about.
    • I always say that first. Closely followed by other stuff, like my name or where I'm answering from (in a hospital, usually something like "hello, Ward 103, can I help you?" or some such thing.

      I never tell them who I am at work though. No-one would ever ask for me by name so it avoids them taking the opportunity to quiz me on the health of their relative and instead I can just pass the call on to someone else.

      I have also mastered complete ignorance of the noise of the phone, so I can usually out-wait any

    • Um, so what IS an appropriate first word, besides "Hello" ("Hello?" is not a word, so I'll assume you meant "Hello" - normally I'm not so anal, but since you made a point of being specific about the first word, well...)?
      • Actually, putting the question mark after the word indicates that it's to be spoken with rising inflection, as opposed to the blandness of "Hello."

        That said, the appropriate thing to say depends on where you work. On a shop floor, for example, you might opt for "Shop floor, this is Joe." In a technical office kind of environment, quickly state your organization and name, e.g., "Mergers and acquisitions, Floyd Smith." Perhaps your name is irrelevant, so you go with "Elton Electricians, how can I help you
    • I am trying to get work done you bloody idiot and you just broke my concentration.

      Seriously any company that allows programmers and such to answer calls directly from the outside (no secretary or such in between) is wasting resources. It may look like I have time to answer the phone but in reality I am thinking (or sleeping) and being distracted means that I am not only going to have to waste time getting my thoughts on track (or falling asleep again) but you are also allowing your customers to be handled

  • by The Slashdot Guy (793685) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:06PM (#9662106)
    People from other offices at work call and the first words out of their mouth are "Who is this?". I was taught that you identify yourself, then ask for person you want to talk to.

    • If -- as I was taught, for business contexts -- you answer the phone with some statement including your name, then they wouldn't have to ask.

      Now, if you do that, and they simply ask for somebody else without identifying themselves, then hey, read 'em the riot act, because they're still rude.

  • by Bishop, Martin (695163) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:07PM (#9662110)
    The hardest thing about a phone conversation is trying to figure out how to pronounce "pwn3d!"
  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by The Meshback (777966) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:09PM (#9662120)
    So you're telling me I shouldn't answer the phone by saying:

    WTF do you want?

    • "So you're telling me I shouldn't answer the phone by saying:

      WTF do you want?"

      That could be construed as impolite, yes.

      Unless you live in NYC.
  • My thoughts (Score:5, Informative)

    by Twid (67847) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:10PM (#9662123) Homepage
    Well, if you knew what the link was (which you won't from the terrible description) you would understand why it's slashdotted already. It's scans of an old telephone etiquette booklet. Graphics heavy, just begging to be slashdotted. Maybe we need a "slashdot story posting etiquette" booklet. :)

    Here's an archive.org snapshot of the first page:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20030602171945/http://c ontactsheet.org/junk/telephone1.html" [archive.org]

    I've been working with sales people for a long time, and I've learned a few things about voice mail etiquette:

    leave your name, phone number, and a very brief description of what you want FIRST, then go on to any details

    leave your return number SLOW ENOUGH THAT SOMEONE CAN WRITE IT DOWN. I can't tell you how many people actually SPEED UP TO AUCTION CALLER SPEEDS when leaving their number. If I have to play your number back five times to get it, I'm not going to bother. A good tip is to write your number down on scrap paper as you say it.

    if your name is hard to spell, SPELL IT. Or at least say it SLOWLY.

    Also, what's with people making phone calls from the public toilet? When I was at WWDC this year, I saw tons of people doing this, usually they were european. (No pun intended, but it's tempting.) Is this a cultural thing that I as an american don't understand? Seems to me the sound of background flushing would be a bit off-putting to a co-worker or potential customer.

    • Look at her [archive.org] and tell me she doesn't look like she's up to mischief. Just from her face & that title I would have guessed it was a porn story about a lonely housewife.
    • Archive.org is blocked by the bank's web filter where I work. Can someone put up a mirror on another domain?
    • by BrianB (7440)
      Also, what's with people making phone calls from the public toilet? When I was at WWDC this year, I saw tons of people doing this, usually they were european. (No pun intended, but it's tempting.) Is this a cultural thing that I as an american don't understand? Seems to me the sound of background flushing would be a bit off-putting to a co-worker or potential customer.

      Shortly after we got wifi at my company, someone I know was in a bathroom, and there's a guy in the stall talking on the phone. The guy sa

  • by annielaurie (257735) <annekmadisonNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:10PM (#9662124) Journal
    I'm using the phone more, not less. For example:

    1) Hey, I'm about to e-mail you three .JPG images and a Word Document. They're not pr0n, they're not viruses, and they're not malware from some cretin in China who wants to turn you into a zombie.

    2) Hi there. I need to fax you the final proposal. I'm not trying to get you to re-finance your mortgage.

    3) Did you, by chance, e-mail me three .JPG images and a Word document? I want to make sure they're not pr0n, viruses, or malware from some cretin in China who wants to turn me into a zombie.

    See? The telephone isn't obsolete at all.

  • Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HarveyBirdman (627248) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:12PM (#9662135) Journal
    People like to make fun of such things and "those wacky 50's ways." Sure, there were lots of civil rights issues and other ponderous bullshit, but some days I think we tossed out the baby with the bathwater. I mean, we really seem to live in a world these days that's an endless legion of assholes.

    If you so much as claim to like a TeeVee show someone else doen't like, that other person will tell you how your taste is all in your feet, your brain cells suffer from some degenerating disease of the mind, you should do disgusting and incetuous things with your mother and/or father and/or unlce, and you are, somehow, the moral equivalent of Hitler, Stalin and Caligula combined.

    Although not in so many words. It's usually "Yu fvkin suuk dood!" But the meaning is clearly implied.

    People tell me it's the result of free speech and free expression and the tossing of old ways, but that doesn't do much to mitigate the fact that we live immersed in an endless legion of assholes.

    • I think people were just more isolated, and ignorent of the legions of assholes out there. The 50's were also full of paranoia, too. Politicians like McCarthy fueled fears that Communists were plotting on every streetcorner to hijack America from within. It is only another extreme, that some remember, that the world was full of nice, polite people that would be friendly if only you could communicate with them! If the public had cell phones in the 50's they would run into the same attitudes.
  • The site is totally slashdotted so I can't RTFA. Tell me someone, is it about telemarketeering as a career alternative to programming?
  • by Eberlin (570874) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @03:21PM (#9662192) Homepage
    I've always replied to anyone who wanted to communicate over the telephone that I'm lost without a modem hooked up to the phone line. "You mean that's not just for hooking up a modem to?"

    In a related story, I forget what the program was -- something that you can pop AT commands to directly...but a long time ago, my sister refused to relinquish the line so I did ATA while she was on. Kept the beeeeeeeeep on long enough for her to hang up. And thus began the great phone wars.

    As far as real phone manners go, there should be a true syn-ack handshake for it. syn-> phone rings. "Hello, my name is..." terminating with the fin "um...I'm sorry, so in so does not live here anymore" [No Carrier]

    Anyone that doesn't follow the protocol shouldn't be allowed to communicate. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... smoking.

    You see it in '40/'50 movies a lot, but that doesn't mean it's in vogue today.
  • hmm friends? telephone? How can I give a HIGH-FIVE thru the telephone?!!

    Puddy: High-Five!
  • mirror:

    http://masonmcd.homeip.net/telephone1.html

    My own TiBook on cable. Be gentle.
  • by concatenation (647741) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @04:03PM (#9662421)
    What next, "Sexy swirls: an introduction to smoke signals"?
  • Phones suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by igrp (732252) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @04:04PM (#9662428)
    Hmm, the article is still slashdotted.

    Anyway, I'm a little surprised this on /. As far as I am concerned, phones suck. I use them because I have to. It's a more "instant" form of communication than email provided you manage to get the person you need to speak to on the phone. And it's the standard, as most everyone has either a landline or a cellphone but many (well, let's make that 'some') people still don't have email accounts and/or don't check them regularly.

    That being said, I really dislike phones. As far as I am concerned, they're about the rudest form of communication, at least in a business environment. By chosing to make a call instead of emailing the person, you're chosing the easy way out. Basically you prioritize your time over their's. They have to talk to you even though they might be busy or doing something else. In a business environment, there are few people who can just ignore the phone.

    By emailing me instead, I could have dealt with your problem on my own terms and allocated time based on my current schedule (that the caller's certainly not aware of), needs and priorities. Should I not see your email in time (which is unlikely since my mail server notifies me of some new emails (procmail is great, isn't it) via text message) you could still call.

    That's why I have two cell phones. I use one during business hours, the number is on my business cards and if you call me on it during business hours I will answer, period. The other is my personal phone. It's small enough that I can easily take it everywhere, the number is not listed and only known to family, friends and customers who have expressed that they might need to reach me. Family and friends can call me anytime, no matter what. Same goes for customers, but they have to pay me (depends on the contract but usually I charge tripple) if they need me when I'm off. They're aware of that and don't bother me with trivial problems. If something important comes up, they know how to reach me though. Everybody's happy.

    So generally, I do prefer email or text messaging to phone calls. That way, I get to choose who I talk to. As far as I am concerned, it's a lot more polite to email me than to call me at 9 in the morning when I might still be asleep.

    • I think this is fine if it works for you, but most people I work with are *terrible* at returning e-mail in a timely manner. In fact, even people who in their voice mail say "e-mail is a better way to reach me" don't actually respond to e-mail very quickly in my experience. So, the phone is the only way to get a quick answer.

      Personally, I think e-mail is a pretty broken system. Many people receive far too many e-mails to process them in one day. Let's say you get 300 non-spam e-mails a day (this isn't
      • Let's say you get 300 non-spam e-mails a day (this isn't uncommon in business).

        Only in a screwed up business. If those are actually requests that the person needs to deal with, I don't see how doing it via phone would be faster.

        I suspect what you might mean by 'spam' is 'spam, but not including the internal business related spam'.

        I'm willing to be educated otherwise though.

      • You raise some very interesting points.

        I have implemented a custom, mostly script-based system on my email server around '99 (heavily modifed since then) that I use to handle my incoming email. Since I have many not-so-technically-inclined friends and customers who might still use some broken, legacy MUA (often old Outlook versions; my pet peeve being eletronic greeting cards that almost all spam filters - for obvious reasons - classify as spam and that tend to be a real PITA if you miss them) my filters

  • by mykepredko (40154) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @04:10PM (#9662474) Homepage
    The article is slashdotted and I don't see a pointer to a mirror, but based on other people's comments, it sounds like it is a rehash of '50s rules and ettiquette and if it isn't how does it respond to questions like:

    1. If you have call display, is it polite to answer the phone with the caller's name? I couple of years ago, this freaked people out, now it's very common. Older people tend to think of this as an invasion of privacy; but these same people consider it acceptable to have a peephole on their door and only open it to people they know.

    2. What about call answer? Should you take the incoming call and how long should you be on it before returning to the original call? What happens if you consider the second call to be more important than the first?

    3. Is call screening using an answering machine polite?

    4. I give telemarketers one chance to hang up before I slam the receiver down on them. Is this polite or should I listen to their pitch? Can I blow a Fox-40 whistle into the receiver?

    5. What are cell phone rules? Is it acceptable to have a social call while in line at the supermarket? What about a heated business call?

    I suspect that a lot of these answers are based on how old you are and what your workplace experience is.

    Enquiring minds want to know!

    myke
    • Your questions aren't really answered by the 'article', other than the general guidelines like "be polite" and such.

      1. If you have call display, is it polite to answer the phone with the caller's name? I couple of years ago, this freaked people out, now it's very common. Older people tend to think of this as an invasion of privacy; but these same people consider it acceptable to have a peephole on their door and only open it to people they know.

      Just becuase you have caller ID or cubicle ID, doesn't m

  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @04:14PM (#9662491)
    Sounds like a better title for this book would be "Social Engineering for Dummies."
  • Phone ettiquette my eye. Finally my bi-weekly reading of Miss Manners pays off.

    Check out this bit [washingtonpost.com] from the Duchess of Ettiquette that explains why the invention of the telephone is rude in and of itself.

  • by BillGodfrey (127667) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @04:22PM (#9662534) Homepage
    "If you're sat around at home, make new friends on the telephone. 0898 ... ..."

    The headline eerily reminded me of that one.

  • by jesser (77961) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @04:38PM (#9662620) Homepage Journal
    Can I Fax a Thank-You Note? (1998) [amazon.com] covers phones, cell phones, beepers, fax machines, e-mail, IRC, and usenet. It is both funny and full of useful advice.

    Excerpt:

    Everyone deserves a greeting


    Have you noticed how impolite people are on the phone? You sweetly answer your phone: "Hello?" You're greeted with "Yeah. Let me talk to Billy," or "Uh, I was callin' about the tickets," or "Is Sherry there?"

    The person answering your phone call at the very least deserves a hello. If you are acquainted with the person answering the phone -- even if you just know his name or have only spoken with him on the phone -- you should try to greet him with a sentence. This is equally important in social and business situations. Say you're calling your friend Liz and her husband, George, answers the phone. Depending on how close you are with George, you may say, "Hi, George, it's (your name). How are you?" or something like that. It is rude simply to say, "Hi George, it's (your name), can I speak to Liz?" George desrves a polite social interchange.


    Another excerpt:

    No one
    ever wants to hear your beeper. Beeping mode should not exist. In fact, the only reason it does exist is so that we don't have to call them vibrators.
    • by bob65 (590395) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @04:46PM (#9662655)
      Depending on how close you are with George, you may say, "Hi, George, it's (your name). How are you?" or something like that. It is rude simply to say, "Hi George, it's (your name), can I speak to Liz?" George desrves a polite social interchange.

      Actually, if I were George, I would find the caller to be exceedingly irritating and annoying, if the "polite social interchange" has no point other than to take up time. The fact is , the caller called wih the intent of speaking to someone else, and simply greeting me with a "Hi George", and then politely asking for that person is perfectly fine (and preferrable) for me.

  • Internet is a proper noun and must be capitalized. It's the Internet, not an internet when talking about the Internet.
  • Phone vs Txt (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @05:08PM (#9662759) Homepage
    Its interesting, I'm a big geek, yet I don't have a cellphone, and only borrow my brothers when necessary. I hate using phones of any sort because its simply more convenient for me to IM someone.

    Of course, this is when I have a computer handy, and I'm not saying cellphones aren't useful for the road. But even then, I find it more convenient to text someone. Why? Simply because, when using text, via computer or cell, it doesn't require your immediate attention. When I'm on a computer, I can alt-tab and focus on other things, like webpages, games, pr0n, etc. With txtmessaging on cells, you can do the same thing, leave the msg in your inbox and view it later. Of course, there are times and places where audio data is better than visual data, but I still find I have a preference for texts.

    And I'm not saying this because I have an aversion to people, I simply prefer to use text via IMs or cellphones or face to face, I hate the phone.

  • by wowbagger (69688) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @05:22PM (#9662833) Homepage Journal
    One good rule I wish people would follow is simply to know to whom you are speaking before you continue.

    We have Direct Inward Dial at work - this means that in addtion to being able to dial the main number, then at the prompt enter an extension, it is also possible to dial a different number and get an extension directly - so if my extension was 123, you could dial ###-#123 where the #'s are a fixed prefix.

    Now, for the sales guys this is great, but for me it sucks, since I generally don't need to talk to anybody directly, and I'd rather they have to dial the main number and my extension if they want to reach me - I have systems to design, code to write and debug, work to do!

    So, when I answer the phone directly, it is simply "Engineering, this is (name)". If you really are trying to reach me, you will know you have the right number and can continue. Hopefully, if this is the WRONG number, you will clue into that and check - "Excuse me, but I was trying to read Edith's Toenail service, do I have the correct number?"

    Thursday the phone rigs the "outside line" ring, and I answer it - I am having a bunch of work done on my house and it might have been one of the contractors. I give my usual answer, "Engineering, this is (name)".

    And this gal starts in - "This is (name) and my son is (name) and he had his thing stolen at school and " and so on for a good 15 seconds at a mile a minute before I get a chance to break in. "Excuse me miss, but you have the wrong number." "This isn't XYZ school?" "No ma'am" "What number is this" (Now, I happen to feel this is improper ettiquette - IMHO she should have said "Is this ###-####" - she does not need to know what number this is, only if this is the number she was trying to dial) "No ma'am, this is %%%-%%%%" (the main number, not my D.I.D. number) "Oh, I have the wrong number (click)".

    Beat.
    Beat.
    Ra-Ring.
    (sigh)
    "(Full company name) this is (name) can I help you?" "I have the wrong number again - is this ^^^-^^^^" "No, ma'am, this is ^^^-^^**" (Last 2 digits wrong) "Oh, I'm sorry (click)"

    Now, the point of this story is that, upon first hearing something that was NOT "XYZ school", she SHOULD have said, "Excuse me, but I am trying to reach XYZ school, do I have the right number?" rather than launching into her life's story.

    I'm sure she was upset by whatever was happening in her life, but she told me things that not only did I not CARE to hear, but were pretty damn personal - all because she did not confirm the identity of the person with whom she was speaking.

    Of course, we live in a society that will blindly fill in whatever forms J.Random.URL asks - I should expect no different for the telephone.
  • Question on the phone:
    "heyyyyy, whatch doin?" translation: "I wanna fuck, you free now?"

    Answer A:
    "nuthin" translation: "yea, get your ass over here."

    Answer B:
    "I call you later okay?" translation, I wanna fuck you, but I'm fucking someone else right now...

    Answer C:
    "Oh, it's you." Translation: "No"

    Answer D:
    "Ahahah! You're so funny." translation: I'd love to fuck, just not you...
  • by metalligoth (672285) <metalligoth.gmail@com> on Saturday July 10, 2004 @06:53PM (#9663218)

    In the Detroit area, one of the suburban area codes (248-xxx-xxxx) is 248.

    At Ford headquarters, one of the local city exchanges is 248. (xxx-248-xxxx).

    Whenever anyone from downtown Detroit tries to call someone from the suburbs with a 248 area code, and doesn't dial a "1" to indicate a long distance call, they get some unhappy engineer at Ford.

    It usually goes something like this:

    *ring* Ford employee notices local number on Caller ID they don't recognize...

    "Ford Motor Co. this is xxxx"

    *In very strong urban accent* "Is Tiniqua there?"

    "Excuse me? This is For-"

    "If you don't put Tiniqua on the phone, some shit is goin' down. Who the f*** are you, cracka?"

    "This isn't who you tried to dial. This is For-"

    "WHAT? You sayin' I stu-pid too? I can't dial no phone? I don't think so. That's it! I'm comin' down there to find out where tha hell she is!"

    *click* *sigh*

    *true story*

  • by Andy_R (114137) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @07:47PM (#9663426) Homepage Journal
    assuming there is a 7 year statute of limitations... I had in my office a mysterious phone socket, which didn't seem to generate a telelphone bill. This was long before caller id, so I had no way of finding out the number, so I used that one for outgoing calls and my own for incoming.

    A side effect of this is that every incoming call on the mystery line was a wrong number. Following my high standards of telephone etiquette, I started off politely greeting callers with "Hello, this is the wrong number.", which (despite being factual, formal, polite and clear english) seemed to baffle the vast majority of callers.

    Responses varied from polite confusion, through stubborn insistence that I must either BE the person the other party wanted to speak to or at least able but unwilling to put me though to them, all the way to someone who called 10 times in as many minutes asking for "Dave", getting more annoyed each time. On the 10th call I said "OK, you win this is Dave, what do you want?", at which point he hung up on me.

    After a while I got bored with politeness and switched to making prank answers (like prank calls, but the other way round), the objective of which was to keep a straight face while cracking everyone else in the office up. The most successful of these was 'dial-a-duck', the premium rate porn service for duck fetishists, which involved answering the phone with "Hi, welcome to Dial-a-Duck", and then carring on the resulting conversation using only the word "quack", in as seductive a manner as possible.
    • by Otto (17870) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:42AM (#9665326) Homepage Journal
      I had in my office a mysterious phone socket, which didn't seem to generate a telelphone bill. This was long before caller id, so I had no way of finding out the number, so I used that one for outgoing calls and my own for incoming.

      A side effect of this is that every incoming call on the mystery line was a wrong number.


      I had a similar situation in my fraternity in college... We had a payphone that had no ringer or coin slot.. it would only take credit card calls. I found the number to it by dialing the local ANI code (how I figured that out is a whole other story), but I also worked out where the wire went and connected up the light in the "booth" to the line such that it would blink when someone called it. The main reason for doing this was so that we could get calls on that line. Easy hack. I didn't want to put in a ringer because the phone guy would get ticked at us about it, but he never noticed the blinking light. :)

      In any case, I found out that we got a lot of wrong numbers on that line because somebody else knew the number as one that was "never answered" and gave it away to people all the time, appearantly. There was some girl that was appearantly using it to give to guys in bars and clubs and such. You invent your own way to mess with these guys heads, we probably used them all for that one. :D

      In another case, after we rewired the building to have individual lines to the rooms, I was living in another building that had an interesting property on its phone number.. The number for the courthouse was something like 341-2345, which the number to our line was 364-1234, and both "341" and "364" were normal prefixes for that area. Meaning that if you dialed the number without thinking too much, you could dial the wrong prefix, but continue the number and get us instead.. Like if you dialed 364-12345. The upshot is that we got a lot of wrong numbers for people wanting to know how much the fine for their speeding tickets was. I mean a *lot* of wrong numbers, like at least 3 or 4 a week. Eventually, me and the other people in that building started giving out amounts of the fines and addresses to send the tickets to. Just random ones at first, then we'd tell them addresses of our friends, or the post office, or various buildings on the campus. Lots of fun. Gave the people grief about speeding and such.. Tell them that there was no fine, they'd have to go to jail for a weekend, just crazy stuff we thought up. It was all probably illegal though, as we were impersonating police officers. ;)

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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