Throughout the years we dealt with phone manners, cell phones, what to say, but never what not to say.

Here is an e-mail I received from an old friend, a retired nurse:

Dear Adeodata,
There is a little story I would love to tell you. My first job as a medical secretary (I understand the term ‘secretary’ is now obsolete) was working for a seventy year old doctor in his house which served as a medical office, examining room and waiting room. His wife would come into the office to chat with me.  What she really was doing, was correcting me and teaching me about medical secretary manners. I shall never forget all she taught me and I worked for many doctors for some forty years afterwards.

One of the things I learned from her is something I hear and see violated every day I am exposed to people on the phone. I answered the phone in the office and someone wanted to speak to the doctor. I told them the doctor was with a patient now but he would return their call as soon as he could. I took their name and phone number and ended the call politely, repeating that I will have the doctor return their call. The doctor’s wife was with me at the time. She asked me how old I was. I told her I was twenty-two. She asked me how old the doctor was. I told her he was seventy. She then said, “Do you really think you can have the doctor do anything you ask him to?” I said, “No”. She said, “Then never promise someone on the phone that you will have him call them back. Just say, the doctor is with a patient now but I will give him your message. Then take their name and phone number and again politely say you will give the doctor this information so that he can call you at his earliest convenience.  For forty years and the rest of my life, I have never promised someone on the phone that I will have anyone do something. I only answer a caller by promising to deliver the message and that you wish a call back. No one has even noticed my response because they are only concerned with their need to speak to whomever they were calling and my promise is good enough for them.

I have probably spoken to at least a hundred people on the phone that tell me they will have someone call me back. What do they do if the person that hired them refuses to call the caller back? How can they have them make the call, especially since they gave their word their boss would do so?
– Sally-Ann Kerman



Saturday, February 28, 2015
9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
100 Dowling Avenue, Toronto

Teen etiquette workshop
Saturday, February 21, 2015
9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
100 Dowling Avenue, Toronto

Adult etiquette workshop
Saturday, March 14, 2015
9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
100 Dowling Avenue, Toronto


What People are Saying

Very good — and it’s not just bosses who can’t stand hearing those excuses! I don’t want to hear them from my kids, from a customer service agent — really, from anyone. Take responsibility and just DEAL with it!
– Jodi Blackwood
Business Etiquette & Customer Service Specialist

Much appreciate all your cascades with all the appropriate Etiquette portrayed by Business of Manners!
– Raphael Fernandes
RBC Royal Bank of Canada

I liked your article on public transportation.
Here in Toronto one thing fascinates me – young males enter the system, sit down regardless of who is standing and immediately close their eyes – as we also see in Asia. Some innate sense tells them when they have arrived at their stop and they open their eyes and dart off the train. Will they ever give up their seat to an older woman? In Japan there is a shelf above the seats for backpacks. There is room for the same thing here.
– Dorothy Sloan

Always nice to hear from you, another interesting read.
– Rick Hurst
Sysco Vancouver

Always worthwhile reading, thanks.
– Erik


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