Letters to the Builder's Engineer: What's Rude
Regarding “Wanna Know What’s Rude?” (Builder’s Engineer, 3/2/06), “There are two things that happen all the time in business that really chap my hide…not returning phone calls or e-mails and making me wait.”: Man, you hit the nail on the head (sorry for the builder pun). Those things make me furious. If I know I’m running late to a meeting, I call to let them know, even if it’s only five minutes, and apologize profusely.
Taking NUMEROUS phone calls during a meeting is Rude Infraction Number Three for me.
If my cell phone goes off on a job site, during a client or builder meeting, I make it a point to hit the button to forward that call, and then make sure the client sees me turn the thing off. This gives the unspoken message that they are the most important person to you at that moment. It’s also usually a good thing to tell the folks at the office that you will be in a meeting from 2:00-3:00 so they don’t panic. You’ll get back to them right after that.
I’ve been in meetings with clients and builders who continue to take call after call in the middle of your one-hour, packed-agenda meeting. It makes you feel angry and insulted. I used to let it upset me, but I have recently adopted a “three-strikes, you’re out” policy. After the third call, I will usually say, “It seems that this is a bad time for us. You really have so much going on right now. Can we reschedule at a time that would be more convenient for both of us, when we can focus on this particular issue?” It’s a scary thing to do sometimes, usually when you are in a sales meeting trying to win a new client. But if you can’t get them to respect you and your time from the beginning, then it will probably be a pretty bumpy ride if you take their business.
I have a personal cell-phone pet peeve over those in-ear phones that people wear all the time. You’ll be in the middle of a conversation, and they start to babble something incoherent at you, and then you figure out that they have taken a call and are talking to someone else, while standing there looking at you! They don’t announce the call, or excuse themselves. I guess they are So Very Important that they don’t have to follow any rules of common etiquette. Sorry, Now I am just ranting.
Ernie Chartier, CCPD, Residential Systems Consultant
Acoustical Design, LLC
Read your columns today for the first time. They were great and very appropriate in today’s society. Thanks.
The Professional Engineer I deal with always makes me wait. He’s a great guy and does great work, but I have no idea where he buys his clocks or calendars because he is always late. One day on purpose I showed up for a meeting 15 minutes late. When I walked in the door, I promptly apologized for my tardiness, saying “15 minutes late is as engineer-ish as I get.” The ladies up front thought it was funny, but I still don’t think Sam got it.
Quality Precast Company
You forgot Rude Infraction Number Three, which to my mind, is the absolute worst of the worst.
Don't ask me "how are you?" and then not wait for an answer, or even worse, ignore my answer. If you don't really care about how I am, don't ask.
I used to find myself asking everyone how they were, and realized one day that I didn't even know how they responded when a very good friend replied that she was in the middle of a crisis and I only heard half of what she said. It only takes a moment to greet friends and customers alike with a kind "good morning" or "hello.” LISTEN to their response. It may even help make your meeting with them more enjoyable.
Home Federal Bank
Sioux Falls, S.D.