Uttering the phrase “conference call” can cause a visceral reaction in the minds of many office workers. No matter what industry you find yourself in, engaging in multi-person calls is a necessary evil. While beneficial for a variety of reasons, the annoyance factor increases by leaps and bounds if faced with one of the five deadly conference call sins, pardon, personalities.

Sin #5 – The Technology Novice

You’ve signed into the conference call services and patiently wait as the multitude confirms their entry. After muting your microphone as the instructions direct, the sound of chatter and random clangings echo in your receiver. Charles, the accountant, can’t figure out how to mute his microphone. The following five minutes involve guiding this poor man through the simple task of pressing the “mute” button.

This annoyance occurs far too often, and could be eliminated by pressing “mute” upon entry. Don’t be a Charles. Think about the contribution you’re making to the conference call, and when in doubt, “mute”!

Sin #4 – The Cough Drop Man

Colds are terrible. They unwillingly disrupt not only your life but also the lives of those around you. Nonetheless, don’t let that tickle in your throat cause immense hate between you and your co-workers. If your phone can’t be on mute, take a cough drop and have a steady supply of water. When in doubt, pull the phone away and cough to your heart’s content; while covering the microphone, of course.

Sin #3 – The Popular Guy

Having friends is wonderful. A blooming social life is a beautiful thing; however, when your popularity becomes apparent while on a call, it’s a problem. background noise of any type is disrespectful and distracting. The disruption level is raised if the noise is laughter or your cell phone constantly dinging from texts. Move away from your friends and silence your cell phone to avoid feeling the icy silence of your co-workers.

Sin #2 – The Space Cadet

Quarterly reports, market data and other riveting conference topics may not keep you on the edge of your seat, but at least try to pay attention. No one wants to fully focus during these calls, but don’t disrespect the meeting by not answering when your name is called. Remember: the higher your focus, the quicker the call ends.

The Greatest of All Sins – The Toilet Flush

Nothing causes listeners to cringe to such a degree than the sound of a toilet flushing. Sure, nature calls, and sometimes you must answer even during a conference call. While this is a part of being human, so is courtesy. If you must relieve yourself, do so in private. Mute your phone or be brave and step away from the call. Spare your coworkers the intimate details of your life and keep the flushing to yourself.

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