If I call a colleague in the UK, I’d expect to be greeted with something like ‘Hi Vicki, how are you?’ And it’s much the same in the US. I’d expect a ‘How are you doing?’ and, sure, time is money, so I wouldn’t be thrown off guard by a hard pressed ‘Wazzup?’. In fact I’ve often felt ‘Wazzup?’ had a certain sort ‘down to business’ charm about it.
But I’ve just learnt a new one. Apparently if I call a colleague in India, they would likely greet me with ‘Tell me’. Not ‘Tell me what’s new in your world’ or ‘Tell me why you’re calling’, though clearly that’s the implication. Just a simple ‘Tell me’. And the missing object is intriguing. To my British ear it’s like there’s so little time they can’t even finish the sentence. And wow – they’ve managed to hone it down to really time efficient communication.
I learnt this at another blog, and here’s an extract:
We had an American employee in Infosys who started using ‘Tell me’ in his phone conversations. I asked him why. He said that he heard the phrase a lot when he called his Indian colleagues, so he was getting used to it. Plus it was perfectly understood. When you say ‘Tell me’ it is understood that you want the caller to start talking about what he called you for. No ambiguity there.
I’m not convinced that ambiguity is a bad thing at all, but nevertheless, I think I might be inclined to say ‘Tell me’ if I were that Infosys employee. Would you? And if so, what would be your motives?