Thursday, July 8, 2010

Miss Manners ... or was it Miss Congeniality?

Today was a pretty slow day at work. I had to wait for various documents for nearly all my files, and I spent a good portion of the day doing plain data-entry. However, the most exciting part of my day was getting to talk to one very grouchy woman on the phone.

This lady (who had a deep voice) was using a tactic popular with people who manipulate others - it's called "being unnaturally calm and condescending instead of screaming and yelling." Unfortunately, this tactic doesn't really work with me - so when the lady repeatedly told me she did not want to speak with the only guy in the office who could answer her question, and I very nicely told her that he was the only person who could help, she didn't win me over with her calmness. (I didn't even tell her what I was thinking: Life's full of things you don't want to do! Put on your big girl panties and deal with it!) This went on for a couple of minutes, after which she asked me, "Is everyone in your office an a**hole?" I said "Ma'am, excuse me..." and that bastion of class and taste hung up on me.

I would just like to point out that if you call an office, and the intern tells you she can't pull something for you, she probably can't. Sure, we've all had the annoying "Oh, he's at 'lunch' right now," but if people can't pull a document, they can't pull a document. Sometimes, you just have to talk to people you don't want to talk to - and then life keeps going.

Like the proverbially fly-catching honey, I would have felt very differently about this woman had she not sworn at me, insulted me and my coworkers, and hung up on me. As much as coupons get you better service for less money, simply being nice to people does the same. While it is a little different regionally (in New York I can get pretty pushy, because that's more accepted there), being nice to people results in free things, special treatment, and lays the groundwork for more contact in the future. These are ALL good things. This woman lost every single one of them (not like my office hands out a lot of freebies or special treatment, but the next time she calls me should be an adventure).

Manners are essential in economics. At the very least, not swearing is a good start for most conversations. In a world increasingly dependent on networking, immature phone calls like hers do more damage than they used to. In a world with more emails than telephone calls, getting rid of your swearing habit before it's easily documented is probably a good move. She hurt her own case for no good reason - except the three-second feeling of satisfaction she got from "showing me who's boss." Not a very good trade-off if you ask me.

I got yelled at in:
Beige dress pants with brown pinstripe, short-sleeved brocade jacket, cream lace tank, purple and gold beaded dangle earrings, large silver and rhinestone flower ring, and brown snakeskin pointed-toe pumps.


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