The young man on the other end of the line sounds annoyed.
He might as well have said “What do you want?”
I’m so startled for a second that I don’t answer.
“Is L. there?” I ask in my most well-mannered voice.
“No,” he answers thickly.
Then there’s silence.
“May I leave her a message?” I ask after a pause so long that I can hear myself breathing.
“Yeah,” he answers thickly.
Then there’s more silence.
Though my twelve-year-old can sometimes be monosyllabic, I’m not exactly sure what to say. This is beyond not having proper phone manners. The silence is stonewalling.
Then it strikes me: the boy on the other end of the line doesn’t actually know he’s being rude.
“Should I just ask for two kid tickets for the movie?” my 10-year-old asked when I sent her to the movies with her brother.
It seemed like a silly question.
Of course she should ask for two kid tickets!
But it wasn’t: Athena had never gone up to a movie kiosk, asked for tickets, handed someone money, taken the tickets, and gone into a movie.
Why should she have?
There’s always been a grown-up there to do it for her.
If your kid doesn’t have proper phone manners or any practice speaking on the phone and answers calls in monosyllables, are they being rude?
But is it their fault?
It’s our fault as parents if our children are rude on the phone.
It’s our fault as parents if we haven’t taken the time to teach our children proper phone manners.
Most children don’t know better.
And we parents forget to teach them.
It’s not hard to teach a child phone manners.
We need to teach them to say:
“Hello, this is A. Is B. there please?”
“May I please ask who’s calling?”
“Just a minute please.”
“I’m sorry, she’s not available. May I take a message?”
Adults are impressed by children who are polite.
It’s annoying to call someone and get stonewalled by an impolite child on the other end of the phone.
Now, if you would please be so kind as to pardon me.
I must excuse myself to go do some role playing to teach my kids some proper phone manners.
Post first published: November 10, 2011
Post updated: July 29, 2019