Monday, April 23, 2012

How to Use a Telephone

As the administrative assistant/receptionist for the admissions office of my school, I spend a lot of time on the phone. In the time i have spent talking to strangers, i have concluded that people tend to lose anywhere from 10-80 IQ points as soon as they pick up a telephone. Therefore, i have compiled a list of do's and don'ts that will hopefully make my life easier from this point forward.

DO speak clearly and enunciate carefully. There is often background noise in my office, and i cannot see your face. You need to make sure your words are perfectly articulated. This goes double if you are leaving a message, because i cannot ask you to repeat anything.

Before launching into a ten minute explanation of your problem, including background information on your entire family and a detailed schedule of your week, DO give me a brief synopsis of your question or problem. I don't want to waste your time, since you are clearly busy. And i don't want you to waste my time, because i hate you a little bit. It may be that i am already aware of your problem, because your sister has already called, and i am already taking care of it (true story). It may be that you have called the wrong department and that i need to transfer you elsewhere.

When leaving a message, DO provide your first and last name and a phone number or email address where you can be reached. I am not psychic. If you leave a message with your first name and ask me to call you back, i will not. This is a business land line, not a personal cell phone. I can't just scroll through my missed calls.

DO find a quiet area to make your phone call. As stated above, it is hard enough for me to hear and understand you under the best circumstances. It is not helpful when you are in the living room where your younger siblings are playing rock band while your mom yells at all of you to come set the table for dinner.

DON'T call without knowing what you want. It is not my job to figure out who your enrollment counselor is, how many of your documents you have sent it, how to get your SAT scores delivered, or deduce from your confused ramblings that you are interested in the criminal justice program and want to get some more information on it. Figure out what you want before you call. Write it down if you have to.

DON'T expect me to take care of your entire admissions process for you. First of all, i am not your enrollment counselor, so helping you get into college is not really in my job description. And second, you need to be assertive and proactive. This place you're calling is a college, an institute of higher education. If you can't even make a phone call without relying on me to take care of everything for you, you won't make it past your freshman year.

DON'T be rude. I am not being rude to you. Being rude to me with no provocation will severely tempt me to pretend i am connecting you to someone else and then "accidentally" disconnect you. I won't actually do it, because i am better than that, but when you are rude to me it does not make me want to help you. I begin the conversation on your side. Don't do anything to turn me against you.

DON'T swear. Firstly, it is unprofessional and inappropriate. You are on the phone with a stranger, trying to get into college. Do not use profane or offensive language. Secondly, we are a Christian college. We do not allow profanity on this campus. Using it to faculty, staff, and administrators may adversely affect your admission status.

I hope this was helpful. Feel free to print this out and keep it next to your phone at all times. By the way, these rules don't just apply to me. Any time you are on the phone with anyone for any reason, keep them in mind.

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