The Salesman vs. The Receptionist

My job is to be nice.  Well, to answer the phone and be nice.  There are a few other things I do, but we’ll stick with that for now.  In being nice, you are always super polite- saying thanks when people haven’t done anything for you, never talking back, offering to do what you can(or can’t if you are a really nice receptionist).  That’s my job- I’m a receptionist. 🙂 Thank you.

Are you aware of what salesmen do?  The exact same thing.  They have a different motive, and are trying to win your good opinion to sell you something, but behavior can be similar- saying “Thank you” too much and being super-polite and all.

Okay, so maybe you’re following my lead here, maybe not.  What do you think happens when a salesman comes into an office with said super-polite receptionist?  It’s not an opening line to a joke, it’s a real-life scenario that happens all too often to me.

It instantly becomes a competition of who can help the other most, who can be the nicest, and who can say the two words “thank” and “you” together the most times….

The first sentence out of both of their mouths is either “How are you?” or “How can I help you?”.  If they happen to say them at the same time it then turns into a *polite* battle of “Sorry, what did you say?”, or “No, I’M sorry- you go first.”  Then the salesman politely inquires about the business owner, maybe throwing a compliment in about the fine carpet, eccentric painting on the wall, or the good ol’ weather.  The receptionist politely tells the salesman that she will make the business owner aware of his presence and see if he can get in soon.  She also offers water/coffee extremely nicely for a jump to the lead in the politeness competition.  The salesman then graciously accepts, and having a reason to say “thank you” does so profusely, both when it is offered and when it is put in his hand.

Next is the receptionist’s duty to apologize for the wait, and maybe offer some small talk(the small talk is probably my least favorite part).  The salesman is perfectly fine with the wait, thanks the receptionist for letting him know, and then continues the small talk.

If the business owner happens to be available, the receptionist thanks the salesman for waiting, tells him that the business owner will see him now, and offers more water, coffee, and small talk until they get to the business owners office.  The salesman at this point gets to say “thank you” to his heart’s content for getting to see the business owner, getting more water/coffee, and whatever else he can think of.

If the business owner is not available, the receptionist gets the lovely duty of informing the salesman.  Apologies are in order here. Lots and lots of apologies.  An apology for his wait, and not getting to see the business owner, and anything else she can think of.  The salesman begins again with the thank yous for their time, thanks for the water/coffee, thanks, thanks, thanks.  One last effort is made on the part of the receptionist to offer the salesman a “to-go” cup in the hot summer weather….

The receptionist and salesman then part ways….until next time.  Up until their paths cross again, they lay awake at night conniving different ways to say “thank you” more often, maybe apologize for more things, and be even more polite.

All of this is quite true, except that last paragraph.  I have never lost any sleep over worrying about being more polite. 🙂  Anyway, I just found this very entertaining- kind of a Frankenstein meets Dracula, if you will.  I hope your week is going well, and I hope sometime that you get to witness a whole new kind of battle- the battle of The Salesman vs. The Receptionist!