When I was a teenager, I stumbled through the normal blackboard jungle of hormonal and behavioral rites of passage, part and parcel of the growing-up process. From my first memories of us having a phone, Dad was insistent about the use of proper etiquette as defined by him.
From the “who would’ve thunk it” department, those mandatory phone habits pounded into my head served me very well during formative years of my dating life. It turned out my exercise of simple, basic courtesy ingratiated me with girls’ parents, way out of proportion to my efforts.
Dad had insisted I always identify myself up front; therefore, when I dialed any girl and somebody else answered I said in a very clear voice, “Hello, this is Otis Gardner, may I please speak to …?” Parents appreciated knowing who was calling their daughter. I was my own caller ID long before it was imagined.
Truthfully, grown-ups appreciated the consideration and manners so much I was told on numerous occasions by dates that their moms or dads “loved” me. That was nice to hear but sometimes a ticking bomb.
More than once I’ve had girls pass me at the Pavilion and whisper, “If Mom asks, I was with you tonight.” Oh my, I wondered how I’d look in tar and feathers.
So, through very basic and simple courtesies, my life was made smoother, especially where it involved Alexander Graham Bell. Amazingly, even with the unbelievable proliferation of finger-to-finger connective technologies in this day and age, there’s still a place for some old-fashioned etiquette and good manners attached to phone use.
I still identify myself up front, even though all calls to dates’ parents have long since faded into the dim past. It’s just an imbedded habit in me, and I appreciate receiving the same considerations in return.
I get a lot of calls, and I miss a lot of calls. Another of my cardinal rules involving phones is that I return calls. I won’t ignore messages and always respond. To do otherwise is the same as being rudely ignored in face-to-face conversations.
I’m sure a lot of you think this subject is silly, but in today’s world there are three simple little things anybody can do to increase success.
First and foremost, return phone calls!
Secondly, always show up exactly when you say you will!
And finally, always do exactly what you say you’ll do!
Today, it’s becoming more and more rare to find folks who’ll do even one of that magic trio, much less all of them. If you adhere to those three simple business commandments, word will spread like wildfire and you’ll be successful.
As an added suggestion, when you leave a voice message, don’t mumble and slur. I get calls from many folks who must’ve attended auctioneer school.
They’ll record one gigantic word containing a hundred letters that’s gibberish to me. It’s simply alphabet soup slurry to be spooned out into English in a game of “Jumble.”
Speak slowly, speak clearly and identify yourself. Dad would like this column.
Otis Gardner’s column appears here weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.