Something that has been rumbling away in my head ever since I first heard Michael answer his phone and, more so, now that I moved to Denmark is ‘How do people answer their phones?’
Growing up I was always taught to answer the phone with a variation of ‘Hello. Who am I talking to, please?’. The caller is then expected to identify themselves and who they want to talk to if this is not clear e.g. a family phone. As a kid I was, in fact told to never give out my name before knowing who I was speaking to (if I remember well one of the reasons for this was that if the caller dialled a wrong number they don’t need to know who I am).
To me this is the natural way of answering a phone (unless it is a business line where different rules might apply, such as mentioning the company and who you are, especially if it is likely that a number of people could be answering that same number). This seems to be my impression of most people answering phones in Malta and in the UK.
However, Danish people all answer their phones by stating their name and surname. I find this strange on so many levels. First of all the caller is the one ‘intruding’ into the life of the person who is answering, and the person who holds all the cards in controlling the call at that stage. Therefore, I think it is only polite that they identify themselves first. Also, while the caller probably has a clear idea of who it might be on the other end, the person answering is often caught on the back foot immediately. Furthermore often the caller cannot understand what the first words of a call are, so stating your name becomes very redundant.
Nevertheless I was clearly told (by Danes) that ‘we are not very keen on politeness, but this is the one thing you need to follow’. So I was wondering. How do you answer your phone? And what do you consider to be the polite way?