Are You Thinking That Through?

Conversation I had today with someone’s secretary, let’s call her Annie*. Mind boggling but you decide.   Me : Hi, I’d like to speak with Janet* please.

Annie: Janet is not in right now.


Me : oh, ok. This is Rowena calling from HR ….

Annie : Hi, can you call me back? I have a call coming in on another line.


Me : Um…I haven’t even finished what I was saying. Why don’t you finish the call you’re on instead of rushing to pick up another call?

Annie : It’s my boss, I have to go.


So I guess :
1. Janet will most probably be pleased to know that Annie has put the phone down on an external call coming in without knowing who it is really or what the call was about, let alone what opportunities have been missed.
2. Annie is probably one of those people who I have encountered who choose to pick up all the calls that come in, only to ‘not manage’ these calls. And this is something I keep seeing all the time. What is the point really, in picking up the phone to tell someone you cannot take the call as you are in a meeting? Or that you are busy? Why not let the phone ring and go to voice – you could pick up the message later. Why take the call to push someone away?
3. Is the overiding assumption that every call into an organisation a sales call? How does one come to that assumption? How does one figure out if that assumption is correct? What kind of first impression does this make to anyone on the other side?
4. Is Annie so scared of her boss that she has to put the phone down on a call in?




About rowena morais

Media Communications and Editorial Specialist. With my strong professional network of contacts, I help individuals and organisations, particularly those within Human Resource and Technology, strengthen their skill-base and brand through compelling writing, beautiful design, content marketing and publishing. Let's talk.

3 responses to “Are You Thinking That Through?

  1. Terry Netto

    Even though I don’t think we had many Annie moments in our firm’s history, we further minimised such possibilities a year or two ago by collectively agreeing to have our mobile numbers printed on our namecards. 🙂


  2. Anonymous

    WIIFM – what’s in it for me? If we look, seriously look at everything with other people in mind, with the larger enterprise at mind, there will be a level of selflessness at the centre of it. And it’s hard to argue that it is always there or that we are motivated to do so. The other thing is also you have to be able to see past your nose and that is some extent, limited by your experience in life and work. I think that if organisations want to get feedback like this, they will build into their systems and processes a chance for the customer comment or user experience to feed back to them. It is difficult sometimes, I cant help but think, to assess what a company will find valuable, seeing as how it is made up of individuals at the end of the day. Between the layers of hierarchy, the various other business endeavours they are engaged in and the communication issues in getting a point like this across, some of the message may get diluted or misinterpreted.


  3. Sheela Jane Menon

    Sounds like a real lack of professionalism! Hard to imagine that people don’t understand the kind of damage they do to their bosses and to their companies by this kind of behavior. Do you think we have an obligation to mention these kinds of interactions to the person’s supervisor? I always vacillate between giving feedback that a company might find helpful and worrying that I might be getting someone’s subordinate into trouble.


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