The Name Game – Taryn


I once worked with a girl who was named Taryn, in a call centre.

The last thing you want in a call centre is to have a unique name. You would think having a unique name would be awesome but believe me, it costs you time on the phone. Here is how the average wrap up for a Taryn call would go.. the side fellow call centre operators would hear, anyway.

“You’ve been speaking with Taryn today”

“No, not Karen, Taryn, with a T”

“T.. A.. R.. Y.. N”

“Yes, with a T”

Yes, T.. A.. R.. Y.. N, that is right”

“I’m not sure where the name came from. Now before I let you go, is there anything else I can do for you today?”

(A long, long gap, during which the caller usually tells Taryn an unusual name story for no apparent reason)

“Thank you for sharing that with me. I really have to go now, there are calls in the queue that I need to answer. Thanks for your time today.”

The trouble with this was, every single time the call centre would review her calls, the ending wrap up as described above would be at least 2 minutes long. Sometimes a lot longer when the story the caller told her would be 5-10 minutes long. Plus, that last line did not fit in with the smiley happy warm and fuzzy vibe that operators were meant to portray.

Several times, Taryn was told she should use a pseudonym on the phones. Each and every time, Taryn refused to do this. Her call times were always much longer than everyone elses and a major reason was the above conversation which she was having over and over again, on every single call she took. Even when they moved her to making outgoing calls in the hope of shortening her call times, this exact same conversation would happen.

Eventually, the general manager of the company approached her about it and told her changing her phone name was a requirement for continuing employment with the company. Taryn went back to her desk, wrote her resignation, printed it out, signed it, and went back to give it to the general manager. She was then escorted from the building.

Taryn was an incredible call centre operator. One of the best I have ever worked with. She was also incredibly stubborn about her name and at the time I was totally on board with that, but as time has gone by I have seen how little it really matters.

Callers do not care what your name is. They are unlikely to call back looking for you to speak to, and if they do, 99% of the time they will get your name completely wrong. I got called Shannon all the time, and that is nowhere near my actual real name. My name has 3 syllables, Shannon only has two, plus the letter my name starts with is at the total opposite end of the alphabet.

I’ve had people call me Veronica, Alexandra, Cassandra, Katherine, Karen, Mary, Elizabeth, princess, darling, darl, sweety, dear.. the list of names I have been called is long and there are many names on it, and my actual real name is rarely to be seen on that list.

Taryn was right to quit, though. I only lasted 9 months in that same call centre and that place was awful, caring more about call times and stats than actual people.


I was tagged by Fish of Gold for this name game blog hop.

I’ll tag Kenton Musings as I have not seen them tagged anywhere yet, and their about page says “I am always on the lookout for the next writing topic.” The rules can be found over here.

Here’s who has contributed so far:

Silver Threading
The Chatter Blog
Lucy at the Excessive Gardener
DebraB at Debra Books
Mindful Digressions
Fish of Gold

call centre, NaBloPoMo, NaBloPoMo 2014, pseudonym, work

The power of positive thought.

In various discussions around the interweb lately, I’ve realized that I’m a pretty lucky person. Fairly early on in my life, I have learnt some life lessons which have been useful in helping me get to the place I am now. Many of these lessons are going to stick with me and I can build on them as time goes by.

One lesson I learnt by working in call centres is the power of positive thought. Outbound telemarketing is not an easy job. You have to be able to get yourself into a mental place where you can handle people saying no to you constantly. Rejection on such a massive scale can really get you down. You need inner resources which most people do not have and find difficult to get.

Most important of all, you need to be able to put the past behind you and move on. Not past from years ago, past from the last call you made. When you were told “no” and you hang up the phone, you need to be able to say “The next one will be a yes”. Otherwise you won’t be able to make that call. And when you get a “Yes” you need to celebrate that and build on it. In an average 5 hour outbound calling shift, we would average 20 calls per hour, and only ONE of those would be a yes. That means 19 people said no. If you took it personally it could mess with your head in a major way.

So one of the tools I used constantly were Dream Cards by Leon Nacson. I didn’t use them in the way intended by the author, though. Each day at the start of a shift, I would shuffle the cards, close my eyes and pick one from the middle of the pack. That card would be stuck to my computer screen. The cards contain positive messages and I found that by having the card there, I would find myself reading the card – which is essentially *thinking* the card. Here’s a picture of the cards, so you can see the kinds of positive messages they contain. You’ll need to click the thumbnail for a larger image. :)


And I found that each day, whatever card I seemed to pick out was exactly what I needed to think that day. I don’t know whether that is destiny or just pure luck. For example – I would pull out “I am free from agitation and tension. Nothing can provoke me.” on a day when the people I spoke to would be trying their best to wind me up. I had that card on my desk on the day a customer told me that wind power was bad for the environment because “it takes the wind out of the air”.

These cards got me through some really hard times. I am so grateful for that. I recommend you get your own set but if you can’t find them or can’t afford it, you can just write down a positive thought and put it on your desk.

When I left call centre work I got out of the habit of using these cards, but a couple of months ago I put them back on my desk and each day I shuffle them and pick one, which sits at the bottom of my computer screen. Next to a piece of paper that has sat on my desktop for many months now – sometimes taking the high road is no fun at all.

We often do not realize we are sabotaging ourselves. The “tapes” in our head play constant negative thoughts. Until you stop to listen to what tape you are playing, you cannot begin to make changes and play a more positive tape.

For more on the power of positive thinking, you may want to read this article – Mind your thoughts.

I also use I Can Do It cards by Louise Hay.

call centre, life lessons, moving forward, negative thought, power of positive thought, taking the high road

Tomorrow is Friday

Fridays are great. Why, you ask? Let me take a minute to expand on one of the other staff members I currently have to tolerate on a regular basis. Negative Nelly. No, that’s not her real name, but it might as well be.

Have you ever met someone that can take anything you say and turn it into a negative? Have you ever met someone who never, ever, EVER says a single positive thing? Do you know someone whose body language, facial expressions and even tone of voice manage to scream negative even if they are trying to be nice to a customer? She works in my store too.

To give you an example – you might try to make conversation with her, and you might say “Looks like it’s a beautiful day outside”. Her reaction could be any of the following.

a. Yes but I’m stuck in here, aren’t I?
b. I won’t get to enjoy it.
c. The minute I finish work today it will start raining.
d. All the customers will go to the beach. I might as well go home, no sales today.

Now I come from an industry where you *have* to be positive all the time, or you’ll plain go nuts. Try working in a call centre with an attitude like that, you’ll last less than 5 minutes. You need to find positives to motivate yourself, and you need positive people around you. So it’s all I can do to stop myself from strangling this woman when she talks like that. I can’t even say anything to her – I’ve learned that at work I can’t speak my mind otherwise the shit hits the fan. What would I want to say? The following as well as a few other things.

a. What you put out there comes back to you – if you are negative, your customers will be too.
b. If someone asks you how you are, you say “Excellent!” – it will surprise them in a good way, and it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I know this to be a fact.
c. If you can’t stop being negative, f*ck off because you’re just annoying.
d. When you are negative like that, it affects everyone in the store and not in a good way.

That, among other things. I’ve actually had two days off because I have been sick – my neck swelled up and I was kinda freaking out wondering what was going on. I went to see the Cute Doctor (a story for another time) and in his rather cute accent he told me I have acute tonsilitis which is very contagious. I decided not to be nasty and go to work and cough all over the people I don’t like. However it seems many of them have already caught it from the admin people, who had this last week. :( Back to work tomorrow and thankfully I look almost human again.

call centre, negative thought