Phoning a friend or colleague from Birmingham may prove a thankless task as, according to new research, Birmingham people are the self-confessed fifth worst phone communicators in the UK.
The study, run by the business telecommunications provider, 4Com, explored how well British people do when it comes to phone etiquette, and our worst pet peeves.
Birmingham comes out fifth, with 44% of residents admitting they have bad phone manners. The UK’s worst cities to call are:
- Manchester (57%)
- London (57%)
- Bristol (49%)
- Glasgow (47%)
- Birmingham (44%)
Listing all sorts of grievances, the telephone faux pas that Manchester residents are most guilty of are:
- Interrupting people when I need to say something (8%)
- Putting people on loud speaker if I’m busy doing something (8%)
- Not always listening (8%)
- Speaking too quietly (6%)
- Eating/drinking whilst speaking to someone on the phone (5%)
On the other hand, these are the phone habits that Manchester finds most irritating:
- Someone having a conversation with someone else in the background (39%)
- Being put on hold (39%)
- Someone not listening to me/clearly distracted (38%)
- Being interrupted whilst I’m speaking (36%)
- Someone speaking too quietly (32%)
For writer Simon, the most annoying thing is being called outside of his working hours: “I work freelance so I don’t do the traditional 9-5 that most do. Because of this, people seem to think it’s acceptable to call me at odd hours of the day. This is especially annoying when it’s not even an important issue. Calling first thing in the morning to ask a simple question, really? And then they sigh deeply when the answer they get at 7am isn’t what they want to hear!”
Engineer James’ pet peeve is people chewing his ear off… literally! “I have one client who always seems to call me when he’s eating an apple. He probably doesn’t even notice it, but it’s happened more than a handful of times now. It’s like he’s literally chewing in my ear. Infuriating!”
To make sure you stay on the right side of the etiquette line, Jo Bryant, Jakemans etiquette expert shares her tips on how to make the most of your phone calls:
- Listen carefully. It is tempting to get on with other things while you are on the phone, but you should give the other person the same attention you would if talking in person.
- Don’t interrupt. Be sure the other person has finished what they are saying before interjecting; conversation is a two-way, considerate process.
- Make the right impression. Answer the phone in a positive manner, and always seem pleased to hear from the other person (whatever the truth).
- Be prepared. If you are suffering from a cough or a cold, be sure to blow your nose before you make a call. Excessively sneezing, sniffling or coughing down the line can be off-putting.
- Be aware. Making a phone call in a quiet public place is intrusive to others; similarly avoid talking on the phone on the train, bus or other crowded places where you can disturb people.
- Be social. Avoid making calls or checking your phone in social situations, or even when someone else is just trying to talk to you. Give the real-life person priority over your handset.
Commenting on the research, Mark Pearcy, Head of Marketing at 4Com, said: “As a telecoms company, we’re all about communication, so we were surprised to see just how many people admit to having poor phone manners.
“While texts, emails, social media, and all other forms of communication all have their benefits, speaking on the phone is perhaps most effective at passing on your message. As they allow you to hear the speaker’s tone of voice, phone calls help to avoid, for example, the risk of innocent phrases sounding passive aggressive, jokes being taken the wrong way, or sarcasm interpreted as serious thoughts.
“Hopefully these tips will help make chatting on the phone smooth sailing for the people of Birmingham.”