Work Call Etiquette Has Men Chatting Sports, Boomers Hanging Up

It’s not just your job, it’s your gender and age that determine how you behave on conference calls.

Women are more polite and prompt, and less pushy, on calls than men, according to a study of more than 200 employees by Chicago-based InterCall, a conference-call provider that is a unit of West Corp.

Female workers are twice as likely as their male colleagues to dial in five or more minutes early, the study found. Men hop on closer to the scheduled start time and a third of them are quick to text attendees who are late. Men are also more outspoken, with almost half getting the conversation going by talking about sports, the survey found. Just 17 percent of women use that tactic.

“Whether business meetings occur by conference call or in person, there’s usually a lot of testosterone in the room,” said Patricia Cook, chief executive of Cook & Co., an executive recruiting firm in Bronxville, N.Y. “But even if they’re more polite, women can still get their points across.”

Age also matters in conference call behavior, the study found. Millennials may get a bad rap for their multitasking habits, but just 13 percent of callers age 18 to 36 dial in at the last minute. That compares with 16 percent of baby boomers, those age 46 to 60, according to the study.

Older employees are more likely to hang up without telling the other people on the call. Seventeen percent of those age 36 to 45 and 11 percent of 46- to 60-year-olds leave without warning, compared with just six percent of 18- to 35-year-olds.

Those older than 36 are also three times more likely than younger co-workers not to notify anyone when they’re running late, the study showed.

Despite all that courtesy, millennials never stray far from their dependence on each other during calls. More than half of the 18- to 26-year-olds said they check social media while waiting on hold, the study found, compared with just 17 percent in the older group.

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