While sorting the mail, I found the dumbest ad:
For 99 bucks, you can learn how to be the best receptionist! I never read beyond the covers because this made my brain hurt, especially after having two admin jobs under my belt. On the back cover, it claims to teach valuable lessons like how to answer the phone, be pleasant and blah blah blah. Really? Who in their right mind would attend this class? You could learn a new, more useful skill for that much, or you could buy 200 Cadbury Eggs. Either would be a better use of time and money.
If you’re considering pursuing a receptionist’s career(?), my first word of advice would be “Don’t.” If you refuse to take that advice, then rather than go to this lame class, keep your hundred dollars and let Miss Prentice share her vast knowledge of an administrative specialist…for free…and in much less time.
1. The Phone Voice
Anybody can learn how to answer the phone, but having a”phone voice” is an unteachable trait, like being pretty. It has something to do with pitch and stressing of syllables and sounding like you give a crap. Advanced phone people can sound like magic rainbow happiness on the phone while rolling their eyes and scowling.
2. Learn to Lie
Lying is essential, and any admin assistant must learn to do so with haste. You’re not going to tell a solicitor, customer or coworker that the person they are calling is not interested in dealing with his/her nonsense. No. They are always “in a meeting,” or “out for the day,” or “just leaving.” Playing dumb is another useful form of lying that makes life a lot easier for me. “Huh? I have no idea what you’re talking about…”
3. Talking About the Weather
What is only thing everybody in the office world have in common? We all breathe the same air. I talk with people about how good or bad the weather is every day. It should be your default conversation setting.
No matter how much responsibility you take on, and no matter how good a job you do, you will aways be underestimated by your coworkers because you’re “just the receptionist.” Do you know how many people think I’m 18 and fresh out of high school? I have a college degree and will be 26 next week!
5. Busy Work
In addition to all the tasks the receptionist is already assigned, people assume the person at the front desk does nothing (Yes, people have said behind my back that they wished they had my job because I do nothing but sit around and relax all day), and they will dump their busy work on the less fortunate. These projects range from data entry to sweat shop-like labor (like inputting boring payroll data, mass mailings, or making 300 gift bags in a day).
I remember getting an Admin Appreciation Day card from a manager at AMC, and with the card she said “We appreciate what you do…when you do your job.” She thought I did nothing but eat popcorn and hang out with my friend Brian all day. Little did she know I did accounts payable, HR auditing, movie time data entry, and operations paperwork auditing. Oh well, at least they remembered the card. My company forgot last year. Being forgotten is another facet of being underappreciated. It happens all the time.
7. Learning about People
For some reason, People open-up to me at the front desk, delving into many unexpected aspects of their life. I’m like a human Redbook Magazine or like Lucy from The Peanuts, giving advice on beauty, relationships, careers, sex, etc. Even more startling is learning more about people than you ever wanted to know.
For instance, one of my couriers talks to me about his love life. He’s recently and bitterly divorced, and he was excited about a breakfast date. When I followed-up, he told me that she missed the date…because she was in jail…for a DUI…which was ironic because he met her at an AA meeting! Today, I learned that he is meeting the girl he fell in love with over a year ago after not contacting her for six weeks…which goes against his therapist’s advice. Mind blown. On to the next lesson.
8. Friends in Handy Places
As the receptionist, I have found the most beneficial relationships I’ve established in the office are with staff outside my company. Being buddy-buddy with the maintenance crew, janitorial staff, building management, delivery guys and the mail man has been fun and useful.
9. Taking on Tasks
This is a difficult balance for me. You are taught that taking on every responsibility and project possible will prove your worth, talents and skills in the workplace, but I beg to differ. Why would the company promote me if I already do everything they want and more for a lower price and no office? I partially blame my lack of assertion on my old manager because she never had my back. If I was being overworked or bullied, another bully was not the person to go to for help. I think learning to say “no” sometimes is valued even more in today’s work climate than being a yes-man all the time.
It is too easy to lose sight and faith in yourself in this line of work. Fight it! Don’t let the office world bring you down. Find something to express yourself (Within reason. My office couldn’t handle a full dose of Prentice.). For me, it’s the fridge poems. Cling onto this outlet as long as you can, and hopefully things will fall into place around you.