The other day a young woman rang me up “on behalf of Yahoo”. Now Yahoo don’t ring people up (nor do Google for that matter) so I am pretty sure that what that little sleight of hand really meant was that she was from an internet marketing firm who wanted to sell me some advertising on Yahoo, something that I could arrange for myself if I wanted, then charge me a fee for it.
However it wasn’t that little bit of dishonesty that really irritated me, it was the fact that she began our conversation with the question: “how are you today?” I have noticed that this is a bit of a trend, mainly among people who are trying to sell me something. No doubt some “marketing guru” once told them that this is a good way to start a conversation, that it creates a feeling of warmth and trust.
Well, no it doesn’t, in me anyway it creates irritation. I assume that the caller expects that I will answer “great, I’m fine”, and we will settle down to a nice cosy chat. In fact I find it an impossible question to answer, because even if I am feeling fine I don’t feel like sharing it with a complete stranger. And supposing I am not fine, supposing that I have just had my leg amputated, or am mourning the loss of my beloved pet swamp dragon? In that case I would be forced to either lie, and say that I am fine when I am not, I am feeling heartbroken; or I would have to tell the truth and pour out my heart to someone who blatantly does not care; who moreover is sufficiently lacking in personal ethics to pretend to be from Yahoo when they are not. Neither of these would be an attractive choice.
As a general rule in life I think that you should only ask how someone is if you actually know them, and you actually care enough to hear an honest answer. To do anything else is presumptuous. All of which I tried to explain to the caller, but she hung up on me.