I called my 13-year-old today to see if we could meet on our respective commutes home.
“Hi Alfie. It’s Dad!” I said, in a surprised and excited tone as he hardly ever answers his phone.
“Hi Dad. Why are you calling me?” he replied in a tone that suggested neither excitement nor pleasant surprise.
“Hi Dad! How are you?! How nice of you call me! is what you meant to say surely, Alfie?” I replied.
“Yeah, that too. Anyway….why ARE you calling me?”
Kids just say it the way it comes to mind, of course, but this was an example of what we all really think when someone calls us, even someone we know. We might tolerate a ‘How are you?’ though I rarely welcome the question – you don’t really care how I am and I don’t care to discuss it.
Are you a doctor? Could you make me better?
Some of us may even allow a little preamble of social chat that is directly proportionate not to how much time we have but to how much we like the person calling or the perceived benefit we expect to get from the call. However, it’s rarely beneficial or interesting to either party if we’re really honest.
Ultimately we’re really thinking, “Why are you calling me?”
You may ask for the same level of social interaction with your close friends and family as I did with my son but, when making business calls, cut to the chase. Pay your respect to those you call by answering the number one question as quickly and clearly as we can: Why are you calling them?
Please, for their sake and yours, don’t waste time asking after their health, their enjoyment of the day’s weather or their plans for the weekend.