Friday, October 26, 2012

Hang it up...

Cell phones have greatly enhanced our ability to keep in touch, solve problems and get information wherever we are, and provide assistance in an emergency. Yet they've also turned us into more self-centered and rude individuals, seemingly oblivious to those around us and those with whom we're interacting. We don't seem to realize that everyone in an elevator or at an airport boarding gate isn't interested in hearing us shout to whomever we're speaking.

I know we've all lamented from time to time about the way customer service seems to be declining in stores, and it's certainly true. But so is the reverse—I can't tell you how many times I've seen a person go to the deli counter, a cashier, a pharmacist, and never once pause their cell phone conversation to acknowledge or thank the person assisting them. I've seen this happen three times today, in fact, and in none of those conversations was someone giving step-by-step emergency tracheotomy instructions or speaking to a person in distress.

Nearly all of us has been on a cell phone when we walk into a store. It's only natural these days—you get a phone call in the car and continue your conversation as you run your errands. But when you get ready to pay for your stuff, or request something from a sales associate or deli employee, is it that hard to either put your call on hold briefly or offer to call the person back while you deal with the actual human being in front of you?

Don't you get offended when you greet someone and they don't reciprocate, or you do something for someone and they don't say thank you? Imagine how the cashier or sales associate feels when they greet you, give you what you asked for, or say thank you, and all they get in return is listening to your continued conversation. I always tell the person to whom I'm speaking that I'll either call them back or ask them to hold on briefly so I'm not rude to the person in front of me.

It only takes a second to be polite. I'll bet even the person on the other end of the cell phone conversation wouldn't object!

Just a thought...

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