"What Do You Mean I'm On Speakerphone?. . . . Oh. . . Oops! "

Services for Real Estate Pros with U.S. Cybertek, Inc.

Hiding Face By Scott LidellHave you ever had one of those open-mouth-insert-foot moments? Where you were so mad about something you just had to get it off your chest?. . . Only to discover that the cause of your ire was listening in? Oops!

Well, now what?

You have a couple of choices, and they depend on who it was that caught your poorly timed tirade, and exactly how far down your throat you manage to stuff your foot.

1. Client. You are pretty much toast! Depending on how bad what you said was, you can either be honest and try to work it out. . . .  or you can grovel. Hopefully they are adult enough to realize that everyone has an off day, but I would not count on it. Sitting down and talking it out over lunch or dinner might help, as well as sending an apology note and verbally saying "I'm sorry" as well. Truth be told, this one is one that is best prevented.

2. Co-Worker. Honesty is the best policy. Maybe they do have really bad onion breath, but you should have told them instead of letting them find out from a third party. . . . or worse yet by overhearing you talking to someone else about it. If something really annoys you about someone, tell them! It's much better to say "Jim, it really bothers me when you tell dirty jokes. Would you mind not doing it when I'm around?" than to have Jim overhear you on speaker phone with the Boss saying "I don't want to work with him! The man is an emotionally stunted, mental midget!" Try talking things over, and if all else fails, kill them with kindness to show them that you are not evil and that you really are sorry you hurt their feelings.

3. The Boss - Ok, so we all know that we have nicknames for our bosses, let's just admit that up front. Some of them, however, are much less kind that others. Your entire office may call your boss "The Dragon", but I would recommend that, no matter how tempting it is at times, you refrain from picking it up. Think about it this way, your boss got to where they are by being smart and working hard. So what does that mean? That they probably know about the nickname and they are professional enough to ignore it, no matter how much it hurts. Surprise! Your boss has feelings! Just like you, and just like you I be they get theirs hurt, the only difference is that they don't have a co-worker to complain to about it.


As for friends and family, you are on your own there! Now that we have looked at the major players that we can unwittingly offend, lets examine a few ways to steer clear of potentially killing our careers but letting our tongue get a little too lose. Mostly, it's just common sense, but occasionally we let that slip out the window in the heat of the moment. . . So here are a few never EVER's for your list!


1. Letting Your Mouth Run Free On The Phone. When I was still in college , upon seeing my boyfriend's number on caller ID, I jokingly answered the phone "Hey! How's my sexy beast?" . . . . only to find it was my boyfriend's extremely religious and uptight MOTHER on the other end. Our relationship ended shortly thereafter, mostly because she kept telling him I was evil. Moral of this little story? Be 150% positive of whom you are on the phone with before you saying anything! And for the love of all that is good and right in the world, make sure you are not on speakerphone during private conversations!

2. Drinking And Blogging. Never, ever, ever, ever, EVER. . . well there are really not enough ever's in the world, but you get my drift! This is such a bad idea! Drinking takes away many of your inhibitions, which is a very bad thing because it also means that any social skills and tact you have leaves as well. Stay away from technology when imbibing! This means email and texting too! Drunken email rants are not the best way to impress clients and keep your job.

3. Talking About Someone Behind Their Back. This is just not nice! Write it in your journal if you have to or yell it at your pillow, but DO NOT spread it around! Sure, maybe Lisa drives you crazy with her 50 annoying forwards a day, but that is still not a reason to spread around that she has has liposuction 20 times and picks her nose. Even if it is true! Keep it to yourself. If you hear office gossip, let it die. Just remember how horrible you would feel if things like that were being said about you. We all have things that we would rather not have the rest of the world know about us, so it's best to respect other people's feelings and say nothing at all. . . . no matter how much they deserve it! ;)

4. Last But Not Least: Over Sharing.  We all want friends and we all want to feel like we are contributing to society, but that does not mean that we need to tell everyone everything about ourselves. There is such a thing as being too friendly. You clients may think you are the greatest Realtor in the world, but they really don't want to know that your child is potty training, your dog made a mess on your favorite rug this morning and that you are terrified that you spouse is going to leave because you think you are getting fat. They really just want you to find them a house. The same goes for co-workers and bosses, try to keep things business related. It's fine to share and develop relationships based on common interests, but remember there are limits.

To help you out here is a list of topics better avoided at work and with clients. Enjoy!

Taboo Topic List:

Sex- They don't want to know, and neither do I! What goes on in the bedroom, stays in the bedroom. . . . just like Las Vegas.

Bodily Functions and Ailments - So you have warts and irritable bowel syndrome. . . keep it to your self.

Politics - Since this is a really touchy subject with many people, unless you are completely certain of their political leanings, say nothing.

Children and Potty Training - Your child will hate you when they grow up, so just don't do it!

Pets - It's ok to mention that you have a dog, but don't spend hours telling them about how Fluffy eats your socks and loves TV.

Topics That Make You Uncomfortable - If a client brings up something that you would rather not talk about, change the subject! You should never be made to feel ill at ease by a client, co-worker or even boss. Politely tell them that this particular topic is not one that you prefer to discuss and change the subject. If they become insistent in discussing it, say "I'm sorry, but I don't want to talk about this particular subject. " and leave if possible. You have rights and feelings too! :)


Well, I think that nicely covers the bases of what not to do, and who not to do it to. Think twice before saying something about someone else, and remember if it would upset you to have them say it about you, then keep it to yourself. ;)



Posted by


    Phly Jambor
    U.S. Cybertek, Inc.
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Comments (75)

Richard Green
U.S. Cybertek, Inc. - Houston, MO

Karen - Great ideas! Over sharing can make a person feel exceptionally uncomfortable. I had an incident a couple of days ago that left me utterly flabbergasted because of the person's ideas of what was an appropriate subject to try to talk about with a total stranger. It was disturbing to the point that I pretty much ran away, and I'm definitely not a conversational chicken. My Grandmother would probably have fainted on the spot! It made me realize that common sense and courtesy are exceptionally important when forming lasting business relationships and friendships.

Jul 25, 2010 08:43 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

It's also best not to say anything in an email that you don't want broadcast... emails get forwarded.

Jul 25, 2010 08:46 PM
Richard Green
U.S. Cybertek, Inc. - Houston, MO

Karen Bernetti - Thanks!. . .  WOW! I can't even imagine what must have been said to cause such a rift! (As you can see in my above reply to Richie, I'm not always the most tactful person, but my family still talks to me anyway.) Occasionally I hear something that I would just love to tell everyone (After all I'm a blogger, not a saint!), but I keep it to myself because I know that if it were me that it was being said about I would be horrified to have it repeated. When I am really tempted, I just think "Karma!" Because payback is usually a big, ugly booger! ;)

Jul 25, 2010 08:53 PM
Richard Green
U.S. Cybertek, Inc. - Houston, MO

Marte - So very, very true! If you don't want the whole world to know about it, don't write it down!

Jul 25, 2010 08:54 PM
Craig Rutman
Helping people in transition - Cary, NC
Raleigh, Cary, Apex area Realtor

This blog is a classic! Love the humor and your rules for phone etiquette....and your thoughts on life in general!

Jul 26, 2010 05:07 AM
Chris Alston
Chris Alston (Keller Williams Realty, Silicon Valley, California) - Campbell, CA
Silicon Valley, California

Phly - Awesome post!  But don't forget...  What happens in Vegas, stays on YouTube...  lol.  This was a well thought out, very detailed post!  Wow.  Great job.  :) 

Jul 26, 2010 09:25 AM
Ty Lacroix
Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc - London, ON

Phly: I think that is why we have 2 feet, so we can put them in our mouth at times!


Jul 26, 2010 12:18 PM
Richard Green
U.S. Cybertek, Inc. - Houston, MO

Craig - Thanks! I find that humor helps get the point across more easily. ;)

Jul 26, 2010 12:18 PM
Richard Green
U.S. Cybertek, Inc. - Houston, MO

Chris - Thank you much! ;) So. . . . Just what were you doing in Vegas that wound up on You Tube, humm??? ;)

Jul 26, 2010 12:20 PM
Richard Green
U.S. Cybertek, Inc. - Houston, MO

Ty - LOL! There have been times that I think I have stuffed both feet and a fist in there as well.

Jul 26, 2010 12:25 PM
Tina Willoughby
Equity Resources Inc - Saint Cloud, FL
Mortgage Originator

I remember an instance, after a very stressful day, that I picked up the phone to dial out and as I was dialing, I was mumbling about hating this @@@@ job.  When I finished dialing, I heard someone in the backround (not the customer I was trying to reach) say "hello, I'm on the line".  She had dialed in as I picked up the phone (didn't ring on my end).  Thought I would die, I wasn't sure what she heard and she wanted to be transferred to the manager.

I went and told the manager about what had happened and he couldn't believe it was me that she heard.  I'm usually so composed and didn't know someone was on the line.  I called the customer and apologized for my extremely unprofessional remark and she just laughed.

Ever since then learned a to make sure once you pick up the phone, make sure there isn't anyone on the line!!!  Make sure to MUTE the phone and use HOLD.  We laughed about it after (wasn't funny at the time to me).  My manager liked to use me as an example that even I could let my guard down and slip, he got a good laugh from it.  I'm not one to let down my professional guard and the one slip was sooo embarrassing. 


Jul 26, 2010 01:15 PM
Suzanne McLaughlin
Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael) - Saint Michael, MN
Sabinske & Associates, Realtor

This is so funny I nearly P*&$# my P(*#@.  See, I've learned already!   Phly, you crack me UP! 

Thanks for the Great LAUGH on a very bad Monday. 

Jul 26, 2010 04:02 PM
Richard Green
U.S. Cybertek, Inc. - Houston, MO

Tina - LOL! My sister did the same thing a little while ago. She was having a bad day and had just stubbed her toes when she picked up the line to call out. I can't repeat what she said when she picked up the phone in the office (I'd actually never even heard of some of the ones she used!), but it was a REALLY good thing I was on the other end! We laugh about her "Obscene Answering Service", but she's VERY careful about picking up the phone now. ;)

Jul 26, 2010 04:20 PM
Richard Green
U.S. Cybertek, Inc. - Houston, MO

Suzanne - Thanks! ;) I think that today was just "One Of Those Days" for everyone!

Jul 26, 2010 04:25 PM
Liane Thomas, Top Listing Agent
Professional Realty Services® - Corona, CA
Bringing you Home!

I just found out that when I am in my car on the bluetooth, everyone outside the car can hear me. Oops.

Jul 28, 2010 10:20 AM
Cari Anderson
Danville, CA

Excellent advice, Phly. I can always tell when I'm on speaker and I HATE it. I immediately ask to be taken off if I think anyone might be listening other than who I'm on the phone with. You can easily get into trouble otherwise!

Jul 30, 2010 07:12 AM
Richard Green
U.S. Cybertek, Inc. - Houston, MO

Liane - LOL! That's one I had not heard of before! ;)

Aug 29, 2010 09:27 AM
Richard Green
U.S. Cybertek, Inc. - Houston, MO

Cari - Besides the whole "Having to watch every syllable I say" thing, I hate the echos! ;)

Aug 29, 2010 09:28 AM
Dennis Neal
RE/MAX, Big Bear - Big Bear Lake, CA
Your Home Sold in 21 Days or We Sell It For Free

Yeah...and let's all make sure our phone is really off before we vent. If it's not, Oops!

Nov 09, 2010 05:37 AM
Richard Green
U.S. Cybertek, Inc. - Houston, MO

Dennis & Terri - LOL! Too right! ;)

Nov 09, 2010 10:42 AM