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Receptionist wants to know how to get mom off the phone

DEAR AMY: I'm in my 20s, and I work as a receptionist. When my mother can't reach me on my cell phone during business hours (I have it turned off), she calls my company's office line.

Because I'm the one who answers the phone, she gets through. She starts by saying, "Hi, I love you, this is just a quick thing," but after about two minutes, she usually starts ranting about her co-workers or her sister. These are not topics I want to discuss when I'm on the job. I feel put on the spot, sometimes right in front of our clients. My mother is a teacher, and I wouldn't expect her to answer the phone while she's giving a lecture. In the past, I've said things like, "Hey, Mom, the boss is standing right here, I've got to go." I've even said, "I don't feel comfortable talking about this at the front desk." I've put her on hold, hoping she would get the hint. She gets huffy and complains about "how busy everyone is." I love my mom, and when we talk on the phone when I'm at home, we have a great time. But I work and volunteer, and my sister is in college, so, yes, we are busy. Is this empty nest syndrome? Am I being rude?Your Thoughts

DEAR THOUGHTS: I also was a receptionist at your age. I'll share something from the secret receptionist handbook: Never lie to your mother about why you need to get off the phone. It's unprofessional - and moms tend to see through it. Tell your mother that you can't take personal calls at the front desk and that you'll turn on your cell phone during lunch.

Taking her calls compromises your ability to do your job, and your analogy of expecting her to talk to you while she was delivering a lecture is perfect.

If she calls and it's not an emergency, you should quickly say, "I'm going to have to jump off; I'm on desk duty now. I'll call you back, OK?" Your mother may be going through a bad patch, and you should ask if she would like to talk about it - outside working hours.

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