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Averting Telephone Problems in the Office

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Coping with the Office

Your First Day at the Office | Coping with Office Copying | Problems with Office Paper | Office Food and Drink | Computers at the Office | Managers in the Office | Averting Telephone Problems in the Office | Email in the Office

The funny thing about telephones is the priority people give them. If you want to interrupt someone's conversation or train of thought, then give them a ring. There are many training courses out there to help you to try and ignore the telephone when it rings and to empower yourself over such a device. It doesn't work. The designers of telephones have made the ringing sounds of a phone the sort of noise that you just cannot ignore. It's a selling point.


In order to deal with a telephone system in an office you need to get to grips with some of the so-called 'features'.

  • Call Forward - With this facility you can annoy someone else with your calls. Set your phone up to make someone else's day a misery.

  • Camp On - You feel so important that you can use this feature to get your calls to follow you around the office. Not only do you get a false sense of worth but you can really offend the people you are supposed to be meeting.

  • DDI - This is a system where people can annoy you from outside your office without having to go through reception or a secretary. The common name is a direct line but you'll often receive wrong number calls.

  • Group Pickup - You can be part of what is known as a caller group, which means that anyone in your group can pick up any phone when it rings. In reality the phone never gets picked up because no one wants the hassle. The end result is that everyone gets very irritated very quickly, including the people who are ringing.

  • Call Waiting - No doubt you will be familiar with the phrase 'Your call is in a queue and will be answered shortly'. When translated, it means 'We really don't want to hear from you right now, so why don't you just go and bug someone else.' No doubt you will find this very annoying. If you want to annoy everyone else in your department, put this and the associated music on speaker phone for all to hear.

  • Speaker Phone - When you're too tired to pick up the handset, use the speaker phone. Everyone gets to hear all the sordid details of your conversations except the person on the other end of the phone. It's a great device.


There are certain strategies that you will need to adopt or you will be committing yourself to a lifetime of telephone trauma.

  • Sales Reps - These people want to be your friends. They want to help. The also want to call you every five minutes if they thought they could get a sale out of you. Just say no. Don't be bullied in to letting them phone back in a couple of weeks. You know that you are never going to buy products or services from these people so don't encourage them.

  • Telephone Surveys - To be a telephone survey rep has to be the most demoralising job ever invented. The rep hates the job and you will hate receiving the calls soon enough. Because they are not trying to sell you anything, they are much more difficult to get rid of. There are two tactics you can employ: firstly, forward these calles to your colleagues; secondly (and preferably) state that 'It is company policy to not answer telephone surveys.' Please note that slamming the phone down won't help, they'll only call back.

  • General - The first two words of any telephone conversation are always ignored. This is because the human ear takes a second or two to get used to a voice. If you make those first two words something like 'Good Morning' or 'Good Afternoon' when calling or answering then you won't have to repeat yourself. Be calm, be patient. Don't forget that the person on the other end of the call cannot see your body language.


It's likely that you will use a phone at some point in your life, so relax, get a drink, sit back and enjoy. There's no point in getting stressed about a couple of yoghurt pots and some string.

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