Distracted Dialer: Reminding a friend to stop the side conversations

Q: What can be said when a person you are talking to you on the telephone talks to her children, dog, husband, etc. I recently told a friend that I would let her go because she had to talk to her dogs and she was angry with me. It is my feeling that if a person is on the phone with another person, either excuse yourself for a moment, or call back.

Please give me the proper thing to say or do in this circumstance. Also, am I wrong in thinking that a person should not talk to someone else when they are on the phone?

A: You are well within reasonable expectations to assume that someone who is talking to you, on the phone or in person, give you their full attention.  The appropriate way for anyone to handle distractions when speaking or listening is to excuse or pardon ones self while dealing with the situation.

Unfortunately it is often difficult to correct the behavior of someone else.  The tone and delivery of advice given about protocol and etiquette can make all the difference in how it is received.  You might ask if it is a bad time or if maybe you could get back to someone at a better time.  By avoiding guessing at the nature of the other person’s distraction (in this case, having to talk to dogs) and keeping your inquiry related to your time and attention you remove the opportunity for the other person to blame you for acknowledging the difficult situation.

One Comment

  1. Winifred Rosenburg

    I agree! I also think people should limit distractions in general when on the phone when possible. I have a friend who thinks it’s strange that I don’t do other things while talking to him on the phone. He’ll say “so what are you doing now?” and I’ll say “umm… talking to you.” He doesn’t get it. I think when you’re having a conversation you should have a conversation and not sort of listen to someone while playing Minesweeper. It’s another example of people thinking they’re better at multitasking than they are.

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