Pleaseeeeeeeee I beg of you, don’t ask me that question when you call me. Please don’t let that be the first thing you say, followed by ‘Hello’.

Don’t put me on the edge or on the spot with that question.

I suppose I am not a very nice person.

Really?! Everyone is always BUSY doing SOMETHING. Even breathing is SOMETHING!

So when someone calls me and after ‘hello’ asks ‘Are you busy?’ – I never know what to say! Because, if the person on the line just wants to chit chat, when clearly I am doing something, anything! more important than the need for idle chit chat, whatsit – just to catch up – then hell, yeah! I’m busy as a bee.

Call me a lousy multi-tasker if you must, I cannot walk and chat on the phone at the same time. I cannot do anything! AND! chat on the phone at the same time.

So, this catching up business – should be done over drinks, coffee or dinner – OR email, sms, an old-fashioned letter on fancy stationery, or messenger.

However, if the person on the line requires something urgent or requires information, then I am never too busy! Everything else I can put on hold to give you my 100% undivided attention (since I cannot multi-task).

And since you now have the urgent important information – go use it! No need to carry on talking to me on the phone with the sudden urge to ‘catch-up’. We can chit chat or catch up over – I repeat – over drinks, coffee or dinner – OR email, sms, an old-fashioned letter on fancy stationery, or messenger.

I am just NOT! a chit chat on the phone person!

If you want to call me to talk about your feelings – somebody had a baby, you’re getting married, you found THE ONE!, a break-up, a sudden sadness, a certain loss, a tragedy, just tell me up front – “I have news to share!”.

I am all ears – you have my 200% undivided attention. But PLEASE! don’t start with ‘Are you busy?’.

You would have had me at ‘Hello, I have happy/sad news to share’ or ‘Hello, I need this’.

There you go! Telephone courtesy as defined by, yours truly, Li Lian Kow.