Robert Cox

Writing on the Wall

Robert Cox is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is RCox@cherryroad.com.


Watch what you say

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

It takes a special kind of person to be a telemarketer.

Cold-calling people and trying to convince them to buy whatever youre selling has got to be one of the hardest jobs ever offered to anyone.

Mind you, Im specifically talking about larger corporate operations where they make thousands of calls a day. The sheer number of annoyed, upset or angry people those folks deal with on a daily basis would be enough to break anyone. .

I ought to know. Im that guy, the one who gets annoyed immediately and progresses quickly from sarcastic to mean.

Not all the time, mind you, but let one of these folks catch me on a bad day ...

I once made a telemarketer cry. Im not proud of this, mind you, and I felt bad until they called me again the next day.

This particular cable company felt the need to contact me daily for about two weeks.

Were calling to tell you about some new promotional offers...

Are you going to lower my bill?

No, but if you add TV...

I dont want TV. I have internet. Thats all I want.

I understand, but...

Im not interested. Thats the same thing I said the last six times you called.

Okay, I...

Are you listening? Im not interested. I will not be interested. Unless youre calling to tell me my bill will be cut in half or that my bill is overdue, I do not need to hear from you.

I hear you, sir, but...

No, no, I dont think you do. Im not interested. I said that already. Put down your script and pay attention.

We have some great ...

I dont care. Im not interested. Youre wasting my time and your own. Hang up the phone and do not call me again.

This went on for a while, far longer than it should have, because like a dog with a bone, I wouldnt let it go and just hang up. I just stayed on the line, getting more blunt, more sarcastic and ever harsher.

I wont share everything I said, but I knew Id pushed too hard after about 10 minutes, when the lady on the phone, tears in her voice, finally had enough, informing me that she appreciated the way I was talking to her as she wrapped up the call.

Thats when it hit me. I had just verbally abused someone to the point of tears. I never called her a name, I never made any threatening statements, but Id used the power and the intensity of my words to take someone from a place of at least feigned cheerfulness, all the way to despair.

Theres no excuse for that. I was raised better. People deserve to be treated better than that.

Words have power. We should all pay more attention to what we say, on the phone in person, and even online. If we all spent a bit more time considering our words, even if were disagreeing with something or someone, we all might be a touch happier. I mean, a pig in lipstick is still a pig, but whats wrong with appreciating the effort?

I almost wish shed call back so I could apologize, but I already know how the call would go.

Mr. Cox? How are you today? Were calling to tell you about some promotional offers ...

I guess this will have to do: Im sorry for the way I spoke and the way I treated you. Ill be better.