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How to deal with difficult and stubborn callers



Die meisten Sekretärinnen haben fast täglich Anrufer in der Leitung, die versuchen, das Sekretariat zu überlisten, um zum Chef durchgestellt zu werden. Secretary Today sagt Ihnen in der aktuellen Ausgabe, wie Sie diese schwierigen Situationen am Telefon elegant auf Englisch lösen.

Tanja T. wrote asking for help dealing with dishonest and impolite callers who want to get trough to her boss. Let me describe what she’s been dealing with this past week.

'This week I had a really difficult caller from England. He said he absolutely had to talk to the CFO about "European Tax". It was clear that he didn't know my boss personally. I’ll spare you the boring details, but it ended up with me cutting him off in the middle of the fifth call. I’d told him to send the information by email, and that my boss would get in touch with him if he was interested in the information. He said, "You don’t understand. I don’t want to talk to you, I want to talk to the CFO!" I understood all too well! It was he who didn’t! I said goodbye in a friendly voice and spent the next half hour really angry about that caller!!! So – I’d really appreciate some tips on how to get rid of callers like this more quickly. I’m sure I’m not the only secretary in a position like this, so perhaps you could give us some tips. Thanks!'

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The kind of behaviour Tanja describes – callers saying untruthful, impolite and even threatening things – seems to be on the increase. So we’ll look into it in some detail.

This is what I recommend you do and say when you have to deal with an impolite or untruthful caller

After talking to other secretaries, I would say these are the three most common dishonest tactics:

Dishonest tactic no. 1 Put me through to Dr Important. (Without saying their name.)

Dishonest tactic no. 2 It’s private. I’m a friend of Dr Important’s.

Dishonest tactic no. 3 Dr Important’s expecting my call.

How to react

Now we’ve talked about this before. In the UK and US, people don’t always say their names. So if you recognise the person by their voice, don’t make a fuss, just put them through. But if you don’t know who it is, and if you’re pretty sure your boss won’t want to take this call, you have to react properly. Here is a four-stage plan for how to react.

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