I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Swetheart Darling Sweetie Lovey

The other day I realised that when I talk to clients on the phone, I almost always finish a sentence with a smile and a generic affectionate name. "Great, so that's 500 cupcakes for the 21st of November. See you then. Thanks lovey!" or "Yes, of course we can create that, no worries at all darling," or, "Oh you're most welcome sweetheart, my pleasure!"

OMG, just reading those makes me feel like I speak in the manner of a 1950's housewife trying to please her husband with her meat loaf and polished silver.

It's worse than I thought, isn't it?

I'm not sure why but I suddenly became aware of how much I do it (more than once in most conversations) and I realised that maybe it's just not the done thing. Nobody has ever pulled me up on it, but maybe they're afraid to. Or maybe it's just become such a thing that it's too embarassing to bring up. Besides, how does one frame that conversation? "Uummm, emzee? I'm not your darling, babe, honey, or sweetie. Stop that girly bullshit, okay?" I will admit to being somewhat annoyed when strangers do that to ME, and here I am doing it with gay abandon several dozen times a day.

I decided I needed to fix this habit of mine - and it's exactly that, a habit... so easily made and easily broken. I tried. I really, really tried. I ended up sounding (to my ear anyway) like a robot. I just seem to be lacking in a business phone voice that lies between something out of Dr Who and June Cleaver. I'm either robotic and formal sounding, or I want to give you slippers and a cup of tea when you come home, sweetheart. This attempt at sounding more professional went on for a few days until I finally gave up. For the record, I can do a professional, not loving or robotic voice at all - but generally that's in a situation where you have pissed me off so damn much I'm trying not to reach through the phone and throttle you. I decided in the end that I needed a second opinion, so I got one of my work colleagues to listen in on several phone conversations and then asked her what she thought.

"Is it wierd that I call everyone lovey, or sweetheart, or darling? Give it to me straight, does it make me sound like a people-pleasing housewife? Do you think I'm annoying people by doing it, given that I have no real idea if they are sweet or loving or darling-like? Do I need to mentally kick myself every time I do it, until the Pavlovian response kicks in and I start sounding like a normal person?"

Her reply surprised me - she said, "No, it's not wierd at all - because you sound like you really mean it, and I know you DO mean it. You are really good at making people feel really good about themselves for ordering with you, and you calling them an affectionate name just proves that you care and you're emotionally invested in their order. Since that's the truth of it, I don't see it as a problem. Yeah, okay, if you were a creepy dude in a shop somewhere, it would be wierd. But on you it just sounds like...you."



Phew. I can just go back to being me. The same me who, frankly, even all these years later, is really damn grateful that you trust me enough with your order, that you pay me to do what I love, and that you care enough to come back and do it several times over again.

Fair to say I think that resolves it, sweetheart.

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