Self-indulgent rant of the day: Full disclosure, I was inspired by an e-mail I received earlier today addressed “To Whom it May Concern” asking if I’d like to participate in a discount program for SUNY Albany employees, provided by a third party company called PerksConnect .
I responded in the affirmative, and shortly after I received a phone call from the author of the e-mail. Between “likes” and “ums” the company representative kept referring to our conversation as an “interview.” Her second question to me was “how long have you been in business” and when asked how that was relevant, she responded that she had to verify that I was competent enough to serve discount program recipients.
I immediately ended the conversation. I don’t know if it was a scam, or if the company often takes such a rude approach. But it got me to thinking about all the ways companies and individuals have contacted me that just turned me off for one reason or another. See if you can spot which annoying tactics PerksConnect deployed that are on my list:
Things that make me tune out, decide not to work with someone, and otherwise just drive me nutty:
On the phone:
1. Say “like” or “um” as many times as you like - but after around the 300th time I’m going to get the impression you aren’t comfortable, you’re not being sincere, and/or you aren’t sure what you are talking about. I’m not talking about people who stutter, I’m talking about people who add words when they don’t know what to say. It’s like grunting. Just stop.
On the internet:
2. Send me e-mails that aren’t proofread, aren’t clear or aren’t even addressed to me. “Dear sir or madam at your company.” At what company? Who? I’m assuming this is spam.
3. Wait more than a week to return an e-mail. I once waited 9 days for a reply to set up a meeting, and the reply asked if I could meet the next day. Had I, say, 9 days more notice, I probably wouldn’t have declined. That was the record for longest wait, until I received a reply email yesterday from someone who I had emailed in January of this year - that’s 10 months between emails. Sending an e-mail is not labor-intensive or expensive. So what gives?
4. Say something critical to or about me online (that isn’t relevant). Unless it’s relevant to my brand or product, I don’t like to be called out in a public forum about something trivial you don’t like. I’m not talking about my friend who points out my mixing up “your” with “you’re” - I’m talking about an acquaintance who responds with a negative comment that is neither helpful nor friendly.
Consider the intent of what you’re saying to me - if you’re joking, that’s what “lol” and a winky-face emoticon is for. If you’re serious, do you think criticizing me publicly is necessary, supportive or helpful? Let’s say you used profanity on my Facebook wall - how do you think that reflects on you? On me?
If I feel like you don’t respect me, or that we aren’t allies, or that you will harm my brand, I probably won’t collaborate with you.
5. Don’t make eye contact. Really, I know how hard this is, but you gotta try. Talking to any part of my body other than my head for any length of time is going to make this far more awkward than it was when you were just too nervous to make eye contact.
6. Don’t smile. If a joke is made -by you, by me, by anyone - or a compliment is paid, or if a nice comment about anything is made, try not too look too constipated. Please.
7. Call me “sweetheart,” “honey,” etc. the first time we meet. Nothing makes me feel like less of an adult/person (or rather, it makes me feel like you don’t think I’m an adult/person) - especially if this comes from an older male, and is combined with a complaint or insult. (“Honey, you priced this too high.”) I’m guessing you’re trying to put me down because I won’t lower the price and this has hurt your already fragile ego. But I don’t know for sure, and I don’t really care.
With that off my chest, I must clarify that I’m not heartless. I understand that meeting new people, and promoting yourself are both difficult, nerve-wracking things that will induce anxiety in even the most cool-headed. I personally don’t usually write someone off after just one infraction. I’m also not trying to be ableist and I realize that there are always exceptions to social “rules,” ie: your right hand is broken and you can’t give a firm handshake. If you can still show respect, forethought and confidence in other ways, please do.
Before you write, call or meet someone, plan ahead. Prepare what you’re going to say, practice it, and change it if need be. Remember that your delivery is just as important as your message. Feel free to disagree or share your own pet peeves below!