If you are British, you are very likely to be tremendously proud of British politeness. And as a non-Brit you probably grew up hearing a lot about that. Yet lately, you hear more about Canadian politeness, especially online. And there you read from Brits, complaining about Canadians stealing their reputation. Note: Stealing the reputation, not being more polite.
So, are the Brits polite?
There is my special experience with what our beloved commentator Smiles correctly identifies as the “Border Farce”, but this post is about something else. This post is about Brits calling on the phone.
The telephone is over a hundred years old. And over time almost every society has developed customs how to behave on the phone. For example, in Italy one answers the phone with “pronto”. And then the caller identifies himself or herself and says what she or he wants. Same in the US, we answer the phone with “hello”, and the caller identifies himself. Similar in France, where people answer with ‘allo or “who is calling please?”. As far as I know, only in Germany it is the other way around. There one answers the phone saying one’s surname or full name. And then the caller says hello, followed by their name, and then states his or her desire.
What about the Brits? As far as I could observe, everyone answers the phone with “hello”. Correct?
But then it gets impolite. As callers, Brits seem to have zero manners. Nobody ever introduces himself or herself. People either start talking, as if one is supposed to know who they are. Do you all think you are royalty?
Or worse, the caller just asks: “Who is this?” Or states: “I want to talk to … !”
Excuse me, shouldn’t you introduce yourself first? How about saying hello, or good morning, or good afternoon? Followed by your name and what it is you desire? Wouldn’t that be the polite thing to do?
By now I have developed a special way to deal with Brits on the phone. If they fail to introduce themselves, I say:
“May I kindly ask, who is calling, please?”
Which usually leads to Brits being totally confused. Many just hang up. Others start stuttering. The Brits seem to have lost it. Or maybe they never had it, and it was nothing but a rumor for so many years?
What are your experiences?
PS: Obviously, I am not talking about business phone calls or telemarketers here..