Protocols in Business Communications

September 11, 2017 Business , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , OTHER

Tim Gouw photo



Hazel Speed


Now I know that my era in life is long over when I hear (and have experienced myself) some new protocols in the world of business communications.

We must all be forgiven in thinking, quite incorrectly, that the word ‘protocol’ refers to a correct, precise, diplomatic and ethical way in dealing, or communicating with people and rules of behaviour.

So what is this new format that seems to be catching on?

Let me give you an example, but for obvious reasons, although the following accounts are absolutely true, I have put the details within an ‘adjusted’ setting so as not to identify the victims, nor any individual or company who acted unprofessionally and unethically, not to mention in an unkind way.


Here, then, are the examples for us all to consider:


After someone had managed to network within media circles to speak to a producer of a programme (which had not been easy in the first place), the conversation developed and the caller was asked where they lived, as the producer had suggested meeting the person.

They named the town in which they lived, then immediately the producer hung up. When the caller tried to call the producer back, predictably the line was engaged.

A gentle email enquiry along the lines of ‘did we get cut off’ was ignored by the producer, and a forward email to their assistant was similarly ignored, so the whole project was abandoned by the ‘victim’.  Although they knew of a formal way to complain within the company in question, it would have ensured they would be ‘blacklisted’, no doubt, if other opportunities arose within that particular company, and they had had previous successes with other producers.

The irony is, the person who hung up on the caller produces a programme on ethical issues.


A different story involved someone being called to attend a person’s office for an interview and, apparently, it soon became obvious they were being taken for a ride by the content of the conversation.

The interviewer promised to send an important email link, which they never did, and whilst the interviewee followed through, as instructed, to send something to the interviewer which they knew was irrelevant, that was ignored.

What shocked me was the fact that both people from these stories worked for the same company, albeit in different but influential capacities, so had enormous power, but it would seem that neither had any manners.

The person whose town did not ‘pass the grade’, is now wondering if they had missed something in the local news, or perhaps the area had not been posh enough if referenced within a programme format (grin).


Then there are quite frequent accounts of company switchboards whose employers have instructed them to tell every caller ‘do you know a named person, otherwise I cannot put you through to any department.’

We are now in the philosophical realm of which was first, the chicken or the egg (grin).

Even if one was donating something and/or was a ‘business to business’ call, then the same would apply.

This is the commercial world’s equivalent to ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’!

When I have encountered this type of situation myself (and thankfully, as I am a lateral thinker, I tend to know my way around ‘gate keepers’), and should the switchboard person be friendly, I ask how the company achieves any business and they agree ‘off the record’, it was not their decision but their bosses, however they agree, it is frustrating for callers.  That tacitly confirms the calls are not recorded either!  Even when they are, clever switchboard people use euphemisms to that effect or pass callers through to a department who will affirm the same instruction, but are really passing one through to the very department a caller asked for (sssh, our secret, that should get the gate-keeping companies worried!).

The irony being, in this kind of situation, one is invariably asked who is calling, and it would be tempting to turn the call into a sitcom sketch and reply ‘I can only tell you that if you know who I am or name someone who works where I am calling from.’

The James Bond reply would be ‘I can tell you, but then I would have to,’ etc.

The sheer arrogance of any company with such a stance.


Then there are Mary Celeste promises.

I heard of a story whereby a musician had been invited to write a feature for a relevant periodical, and perhaps on a cutting edge subject, i.e. ‘something to stir things up and create interest.’

Apparently, the submission was confirmed as being excellent, promised to be published the following month, and a colleague would be calling the person to discuss it all in that regard, and they would be thrilled to read what had been written.

It appears nothing more was heard, and when the person ‘who had been invited to write about music, and their work hailed as being excellent’, wrote to the originator of that invitation, the enquiry was ignored.


Now, my take on the above anecdotes outlined would be as follows:-


In the middle of a phone call, one is entitled to have reservations and/or change one’s mind, but some dysfunctional activity must be present if a person is invited to meet up with a producer, but which person asks the name of a town where someone else lives, and that becomes a step too far.  I think anyone who does that ought to see a doctor; and I encourage the person who had to endure that unprofessionalism not to judge the rest of us like that, and to continue with their endeavours.  The problem is not with them.


Then the story requiring an interview of someone only to satisfy a curiosity, and lead them up the garden path, then to ignore an email enquiry as to the interviewer’s neglect of promise in that regard.

Perhaps, given the two executives work for the same organisation, they should go to the doctor together (grin).

Seriously, why interview a person if it is obvious to them that they are not of interest to you as interviewer, but are just the recipient of unkind taunting of sorts.  They are the victim of some cruel mental game.


Now we come to the company who only accept business calls from other companies already on their Christmas card list.

Having heard that story, I would have loved to call them and say their company had been chosen to receive a Government Grant initiative of £1m, but we would ring another Company instead as we do not know the name of their appropriate executive to accept this immediate payment.

I bet I would be put on hold and seconds later an Executive would be speaking to me on the other end, at which point, it would be wonderful to say, ‘Oh I am sorry, I can only speak to you if you know my name’!


Finally, if any of us invite someone to write a specific piece for any publication then that is part way to a commission legally, and surely becomes such if they are subsequently told the article was excellent and would be published the following month.

For the magazine who withdrew all communication and ignored email enquiry as to what had changed their mind, they must realise that word would spread with regards to them as individuals and their publication in particular.

When I became aware of this story, the thought crossed my mind had his colleague, for whatever reason, disagreed and considered that the article was not for them after all.

If this had been the case, if I had been them, I would have done the honourable thing and come clean, i.e. as you know, I loved the written work, but my colleague thought it may not be a good sit within our publication after all, but I hope there is no ill feeling.

Now, by not declaring what went wrong, they have not done themselves any favours and ill feeling, resentment, lives on and the story spreads.


Once over, a person’s word was their bond.  Their reputation was priceless to them.  Now their reputation as being honourable is a spent force.

I know one couple who are older now and they try not to answer the phone, or go out other than for shopping, as they say as soon as one goes out of the door or picks up the phone, there is trouble waiting via nasty people they encounter here or there.

In some situations which any of us may find ourselves in during our lives, whereby we may be treated unjustly, wouldn’t it be marvellous to declare we were really under cover from their Head Office to test their reaction, and we have to tell them that our report will not be a favourable one.  Or perhaps one’s Uncle is the Chairman of the Company and he will no doubt be speaking with them soon.

Then, like all the examples herein above, we could just walk away.

As one victim of poor treatment said to me, ‘how do these people get their own jobs?’






Hazel Speed

Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine

Hazel Speed is a Philosopher, Writer, and Artist with various creative projects at differing stages of development. Her flaship project is an animation which has produced a film short: She has also written an E-novel, ‘Just Suppose…!‘ which is available via the attached link.

Art sites:

Editor review

1 Comment

  1. hazel speed September 11, at 15:59

    Thank you Saadat for the 'Like' much appreciated. Hazel


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.