"Can / May I ask you a question?"

Doug Harris cats22 at STNY.RR.COM
Mon Dec 1 20:22:05 UTC 2008

I sometimes need to do telemarketing -- cold-calling prospects in an attempt to get an appointment. I've done this for various companies. One had a trainer who strongly encouraged using a 'how are you' type question when a prospect first got on the phone. I disagreed with that concept, in part because the caller would know that I know they know I'm not truly concerned with how they are; and anyway, seconds spent on such pointless exchanges of not-even-pleasant comments would be time needlessly taken from the prospect's busy day, and _that_ would be good for the prospect or for me.
Unless I'm mistaken, the French do conversation-initiation so much nicer in most instances, with a simple 'bon jour'.

12/1/2008 12:55:55 PM
Subject: Re: "Can / May I ask you a question?"

>When a co-worker you know only casually asks "How ya doin'?" in the morning
>as you're both going into the work place, you don't *tell* them how
>you're doing: you say "Pretty good" or "Not bad" or "Could be worse"
>or "Same old same old", or something equally brief and summative, and
>not necessarily true.

>Mark Mandel

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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