“How are you today?” – Politeness or Pain?


How many times have you been cold called with the opening question “How are you today?” The reason this is so annoying and out of place when addressing a stranger on the telephone is that no relationship exists yet between the caller and person being called and so this (whilst meant in supposed politeness) is misplaced as it has no context or reference at this point and is only uttered because it happens to be the first line on the caller’s script because the caller’s training says it has to be this way. The scenario is different if the cashier in the supermarket greets you as a stranger with the same question as the context is that you as the customer have already spent time in the store and are now in fact about to buy something and the “how are you today?” fits the occasion when both parties can see and feel the scenario and these words are naturally appropriate. ┬áTo assume this context and relationship on the telephone as the opening line with a stranger (particularly when calling to sell as opposed to someone buying from you) is totally unprofessional particularly right at the top of the call as it determines the mood for the remainder of the conversation however long it lasts. Try a quick friendly intro of your name and company name first so people can place who you are without you trying to assume the relationship and just get to the reason for calling very quickly because the other negative with “how are you today?” is that it now requires the person being called to comment on how they are feeling causing unnecessary/irrelevant distraction to the beginning of the call and can water down the message as the caller in normal conversation would then be expected to comment on the reply to “how are you today?” not brush it aside moving straight into the pitch. You wouldn’t at a party ask someone how they were, they then reply and then you quickly change subject onto what you wanted to talk about. You would talk some more on the subject of “how are you today?” before doing that and on the phone you have no time for this and the reason why this opening question is so misplaced. It detracts from the real reason for your call. (The caller is supposed to press on with their pitch regardless of the person being called saying “I feel like ****!”). Be mindful and act how YOU would like a caller to handle the greeting stamping your own take on this rather than blindly following your script without thought. Engage efficiently, remain in control, still remaining polite and do not annoy people right at the beginning of the interaction. Have a productive week! – Kevin.