Answering the phone in my office is a bit of a Russian roulette, and I have to admit I am guilty of not listening to people properly unless I really am interested. The Geordie found it amusing that I didn’t have a clue what the profession of a guy I was seeing was, despite the fact that I asked him on multiple occasions. He started talking, I switched off. It’s a bad trait of mine, but in my defence it weeds out who friends from acquaintances. If I can’t recite what you do, I probably don’t listen to you!!
Anyway, I’m really bad at hearing people’s names on the phone. And so is one of my colleagues. I think it’s rude to ask people to repeat things more than twice. The international rule of rudeness is thus:
Ask name. Don’t hear/understand/listen.
Ask to repeat. As above. Line might be crackly or accent strong, but you now are at the point where you can’t ask again for fear of causing mortal offence.
You put them on hold and say to whoever the call is for “…. is on the phone for you”. At this point you have either mumbled quietly when you have said the name, or gone for something that sounds like what you thought you heard, or what it possibly could be.
They answer phone. You generally got the name wrong.
But a girl I work with took it a step further yesterday, and I loved it. She completely styled out that she didn’t have a clue who was on the phone and said “mike or mark is on line one for you.” The person receiving that call answered it, and when he got off the phone said to her “do you want to know what his name was? Kurt.”