By Joanie Ogg CTC, MCC
Have you ever had this experience? You are sitting in an airport and the man seated next to you is having a conversation with someone on his cell phone. I suspect all of us have experienced this or the scenario of being seated anywhere next to someone on a cell phone. You try not to listen, but it is almost impossible since he is speaking rather loudly. His conversation continues and you hear him repeat the spelling of the other party on the lines full name, followed by their address, phone number and low and behold a credit card number! Think about it, if you were an unsavory type, you could have easily been jotting all that information down and been privy to very personal information and use it in a devious way.
Conducting conversations over the phone is very normal yet I think we are still used to them being in the privacy of our home or office when we converse and forget we are in a public setting. It is unlikely anyone is interested in what we are talking about publicly so why do we do it? We may be right that they are not interested, but what if they are?
I feel bad sometimes, because I often choose not to answer my cell phone in a public place. Sure, it would be much easier to answer it then to have to call back, but I have an aversion to hearing people speak loudly on cell phones and disturbing the rest of us with their chatter. I think it is pretty unprofessional to be conducting a phone call with the noise of an espresso machine in the background. More importantly, I do not feel comfortable having a business conversation in a public place. I don’t have any trade secrets that I am hiding, however I am sure my clients would not choose to have their business being announced to the customers in my local Starbucks.
So, my choice is to carefully screen my calls and make every attempt to call right back once I am in a quiet place. Do we always need to be available or can we better manage our availability. There are so many alternatives that are not as obtrusive or potentially damaging such as text, email, chat via Google, Skype, even Facebook if necessary.
Some things to think about…
1. Be aware of where you are and your surroundings when taking a call in a public place.
2. Always keep your clients personal and sensitive details private, they have a right to privacy.
3. Think about another way to answer if you must. Hi, great to hear from you. Can I call you right back where I can speak to you privately? It is rather loud where I am right now.