top 10 pet peeves of a receptionist

My first job out of college was a receptionist for a mid-size telecommunications company. Obviously not my dream job, but it was 2009, I was in loads of student loan debt and I couldn’t afford to be picky. The job had its ups and downs (mostly downs, but that’s a story for another post), but I quickly learned that coworkers, callers and outside visitors alike have no idea how to properly deal with a receptionist. I complied this list of my biggest pet peeves during the 14 months I sat behind the front desk.
1. I am not a mind-reader. If you call and ask for “John,” but don’t know his last name, which office he works in, what department he works in, or any other discernible information about him, chances are I can’t help you.
2. Although the reception area may be larger than your cube, it doesn’t mean you can take up permanent residence here. Do not scratch your crotch, talk on the phone with your “bros” about your E-Trade portfolio, throw a tennis ball against the wall, or do any other unnecessary activity in or around my desk. I have work to do, too, and believe it or not, watching you walk around reception with your hands down your pants is not conducive to a productive work environment.
3. My desk is my personal space. It is not your coffee table, makeup vanity, filing cabinet or bongo drum. Just because it isn’t closed in with cubicle walls doesn’t mean it’s public domain. Anything you leave on my desk can and will be thrown away.
4. My computer screen may be visible while you’re passing through the office, but that doesn’t mean you need to comment on whatever I’m looking at. I don’t come over to your cube and comment on your fantasy football team, your not-safe-for-work YouTube videos
5. Being rude to me will get you nowhere but an empty phone line. What makes you think I want to help someone who’s practically yelling at me over the phone? Even worse is when you call and ask me a question, only to express dissatisfaction with the results. Oh right, I forgot…you’re the expert on a company you don’t work for. What would I, the eyes, ears, and human phone directory of said company, know anyway?
6. I may be a receptionist, but I’m not stupid. There’s no need to speak to me like I’m 5 years old. I have a college degree and enough intelligence to know your patronizing tone is only going to get you sent to a dead-end voicemail.
7. LISTEN. I can’t even count how many people thought my first name was the name of my company, or, when informed of my name, totally butcher it and call me ‘Alice’ or ‘Alyssa.’ Also, if I say the name of the company and it sounds nothing like what you’re calling for, there’s no shame in admitting you have the wrong number. I had people try and convince me they were calling a dentist’s office, an insurance company and a gumball machine manufacturer. One woman just kept shouting over me that she needed to schedule a root canal. I hung up on her.
8. I’m not your personal assistant. I won’t address your Christmas cards, make copies of your daughter’s Dean’s List certificate, or put a stamp on your traffic ticket violation. Actually, I’d do all of that and pick up your dry-cleaning if you gave me a significant raise.
9. I’m not your therapist. I do feel bad that your girlfriend dumped you, that you’re hungover, that you’re broke, etc. However, there’s only so much sympathy I can send your way because at the end of the day, I don’t care. I have a litany of my own problems to deal with (one of them being this job) and like I said before, I don’t get paid enough to listen to you bitch.
10. Leave me alone. Not all the time, because I get that my job is to help you/listen to you/etc., but sometimes I may be upset/angry/annoyed and want some privacy. I’m a big crier; I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m sad, I cry when I’m bored. I cry at my desk a lot simply because I can’t leave the phones and because I don’t have cubicle walls to hide behind. (Sometimes I have cubicle envy.) I appreciate the concern, but nine times out of 10 I just want to be left alone.
These are just a few things to keep in mind the next time you interact with your friendly neighborhood receptionist.
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