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Hello?

I forget when, but sometime in the past couple of years, i stopped answering "Hello?" when i got a call on my phone.

I grew up in a time before mobile phones were a regularity and thus a time when that typical telephone protocol makes more sense. caller makes a call to a house phone, a single line that typically belongs to an entire family. recipient's phone rings and recipient answers not knowing who is on the other end. Recipient's first words are, "Hello?" This is to establish connection and communication. Caller asks, "can i please speak to blank?" because it's more unlikely than likely that the recipient is the caller's actual intended target. If the caller knows the person, they may say, "hey, it's me," if they're confident that the recipient can recognize them by voice when they answer "Hello?".

the point of the protocol is that it isn't until the phone is answered that a true establishment of identity on both sides can be confirmed. but these days we live in a world where most phone calls are done from mobile to mobile, and in my opinion that makes that protocol out of date. callers, whether strangers or familiars, are more likely to target a mobile phone and therefore know exactly who they're reaching. recipients get caller ID on all of their calls so can usually categorize the call between known contacts vs unknown contacts.

So now when i answer the phone, i do one of two things: if it's someone i know, i almost always answer either, "hey you" or "hey, what's up?" in a way that's clear that i know who is on the other end. when my mom calls me, i answer "hi, mom" to start.

if it's someone i don't know, i always answer with, "This is Mendel." with an inquisitive tone, almost as if i'm asking a question. This is an attempt to bypass the necessity of the person on the other end asking to confirm the identity of me as the target of their call. This works maybe 20% of the time - the other 80%, the caller still says something like, "is this Mr. Lee?", and sometimes even, "Is this Mendel?" after i've already said, "This is Mendel." With certain places i feel like this is a business courtesy - establishing identity in that sense in some ways feels more professional because assuming identity prior to that identification is usually something much more familiar. But with other places, i feel like this is just force of habit - you ask to confirm the identity because it's atypical for someone to confirm the identity for you before you ask.

And recently, i've been wondering - how does the generation who grew up with only mobile phones do this? i'm sure that familiar to familiar they don't feel the need to establish identity, but what if it's an unknown? I tend to think that they answer "hello?" because that protocol is still expected coming from a generation before. But at some point i have to believe that that protocol will disappear and that no one will ever have to use the words "hello" with a question mark at the end of it ever again in the same way that no one ever really has to say "dial a number".

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dr4b
Apr. 7th, 2014 07:18 pm (UTC)
oh, the loss of "dial a number" is funny.

I answer the phone much the same as you, I look at the ID and either go "hey, what's up?" or "hello, who is this?" if I don't recognize the number.
derien
Apr. 7th, 2014 11:40 pm (UTC)
I'm probably more your age than the demographic you're looking for, but I've noticed that my brother will answer "Hi!" but very familiarly, and I can tell by his voice that he knows exactly who it is already. And that annoys me unreasonably. I can't imagine why, but perhaps because I just feel as though he should not assume that it's really going to be me. I do usually use the landline, which my husband could also be calling on, but I just hate people being presumptuous. I will always do the questioning 'hello?' even when I'm being called on a cell and it tells me who's calling, because that is the way phones are supposed to be answered. ;)
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belenen
Apr. 8th, 2014 06:27 am (UTC)
I always say, "hey, what's up?" too. I don't answer if I don't have the number saved, so I never have to ask who it is. This is an interesting shift in phone culture!
sabr
Apr. 9th, 2014 01:15 am (UTC)
I'm another "this is soandso" answerer. I guess I just feel silly doing the whole identity confirmation when Im the only one who answers my own personal phone :)
truthmonkey42
Apr. 18th, 2014 01:53 pm (UTC)
I usually go with "Good [morning/afternoon/evening], Raj speaking..."
telemarketers still seem rather unable to break script, even though I have just identified myself, they go about making random attempts at pronouncing my name.
truthmonkey42
Apr. 18th, 2014 01:54 pm (UTC)
also, if it's random number, I may also tack on "and how are you doing today?" which seems to fluster people who don't know how to respond to the answer-er asking the first question.
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