The Power of the Unseen Voice

GREETINGS FROM TAHOE CALL CENTER:

Located in Nevada, Tahoe Call Center is a small family-run business with a big heart, ready to help with your communication needs.  Since 2012 we have assisted clients coast to coast in varied economic and emergency climates: wild-fires, blizzards, ice storms, pandemics, and unforeseen events (with affordable, competitive pricing that didn’t add further trauma).

Rain or shine, short-staffed or no staff, we help keep your business going: Answering phones / taking messages / providing information / Taking credit card orders / collecting and transmitting confidential information via email, SMS, or API (linking with existing systems).  Our agents are trained to process sensitive information with courtesy, respect and maintain the strictest of confidence.  We also help with those intermittent overflow call surges during business hours and cover your customer inquiries when you are closed.  “Always here so you don’t have to be” – We help keep things running smoothly 24/7, 365 days a year.  Tahoecall.com

Blog 14 – August 2021

I have worked with the general public for over 40 years now.  Unlike interactions that were local and face-to-face, those executed over the phone exposed me to a much more vast geographic area, a variety of people, and an assortment of situations.  Interacting with so many different people is actually one of the perks of my job where I’m granted access to a moment of their day.  They invite me into their homes, tell me jokes and stories of their life,  invite me on shopping sprees, value my opinion,  and allow me to help relieve them of some stress or anxiety felt about some difficulty they are having.  I’m no ‘Dear Abby’ or ‘Sigmund Freud’, but I know the abilities and authority (though limited) that I have can make a difference in their day.   

Most all will speak English, many speak more than one language, and while those accents will color the conversation the variety of dialects and accents from the many regions within this country -coast to coast- always amazes me.  Some areas are easy to identify. The lack of a consonant in the phrase: “Pak the cah”  (no ‘r’ for park the car) usually is found in the northeastern part of the states, whereas other areas emphasize the letter “r” like when spelling out a name “Roberta”: “That’s ‘are-ah’- o-b-e-‘are-ah’-t-a”. For others, the combination of ‘o,r’ is run together so you only hear the consonants: ‘for’ becomes ‘fur’.  

Some southern states extend their words stretching them like taffy.  Time’s pace is slower, making you wait to comprehend each one. 

Whereas in the larger cities many callers speak so fast my brain is challenged to keep up with the information being given.

Some region’s dialects produce a heavy nasal sound with clipped and abrupt annunciations that sometimes can be mistaken for anger. And some places have an almost musical dialect to their speech.    It’s all ‘English’ or more accurately, ‘American-English’ as our pronunciations and words aren’t always the same as our friends across the Atlantic.

It is a privilege to be able to connect with the variety of people in this country that I wouldn’t know even existed if I worked in a different field.  It is surprising what I learn each day.  I never ‘see’ any of them, so I rely greatly on the tools of my trade: being present with undivided attention; listening; comprehension; tone of voice; reassurance; acknowledgment; understanding, and sounding competent (as much as I’m able in any given day).  Each interaction takes a piece of me.  Some may receive a more generous one than others. There are days I have endless energy, and days my battery is low. But every day I begin anew, every day is a blank canvas, and I never know what picture will be created by the day’s end.

Not all visitations are ‘wonderful’.  Many place me at the receiving end of anger, frustration, and hate; verbally pummeling me like an exclusive punching bag. These moments I could do without.  The challenge is to focus on where the caller is coming from, and remember I’m just the one who answered the call. I didn’t initiate the circumstances that caused it.   Being empathetic by nature, however, only allows for limited exposure to such toxic acrimony before the poison takes its toll.  The power of the unseen voice can either delight or destruct in an instant.

It is said if you try to place a frog into a pan of hot water it will immediately leap out. But if you place it in cool water and slowly raise the temperature it will remain until it cooks (awful concept, but significant).  Similar for people in an odd way; we share that tendency to leap away from the obvious threat but acclimate to gradual ones.  This past year’s and the ongoing epidemic has disrupted face-to-face social interactions.  And despite our brief respite, Voldemort’s wand has recently returned poised and threatening once again to ‘apparate’ us all back to square one.  During the lock-down of this past year, the cessation of Time’s familiar tides sent America’s fast-laners uncomfortably adrift.  The closing of all public venues and options forced us to accept an unfamiliar slower pace; not something most do willingly.  Placing our self-value and identifying who we are with what we do for years now,  our jobs and increasing pace have established the road maps of our existence.   Lockdowns made us look inward; providing time to realize identity is comprised of so… much… more!

The pace of many calls I take now seems slower. People want or need to talk to a live person.  Information-only calls have increased, I think in part because people are longing for the art of conversation; not impressive dialogs, just ‘chatting’.  Connection and affirmation have been added to the reason for a call along with reassurance and, if possible, a laugh or two.    Phones, Skype, and other computer communication venues have become emotional lifelines for many pushed into isolation without other means of human contact. Some may remember AT & T’s 1979 campaign, but I’m sure ATT never  imagined the significance of their words in a Covid world: “Reach out and touch someone…”

Ours is a definitive time of transition. Whether enforced by health, circumstance, or just taken; Time is providing the opportunity to reassess what we’ve been doing, as well as the how and why. 

Whatever your personal beliefs, it seems for some reason we’ve all been put in a ‘time-out’. The spotlight has landed on each of us, exposing our joys, heartaches, success, and failures.  Without all the frenzy of our previous lives and, with nowhere else to go,  we’ve been given time without distraction; all asked to focus on the same question:     “Is this the best we can do?”