Can I Ask Who’s Calling?

I can’t stand when I call in somewhere, asking for a particular person, and the person on the other end of the phone replies with “Can I ask who’s calling?”  My initial thought would be to respond literally by saying “Well, yes…yes you may!”  And then wait for them to respond with the proper question.  But I don’t want to be a jackass.

I understand that this is their way of asking for my name but the wording isn’t correctly stated.  It should read as “Who, may I ask, is calling?”  In fact, ‘may I ask’ isn’t even relative to the conversation.  You’re already asking.  Now you’re pushing two questions together into one by asking if you could ask and then asking who is calling.

I don’t know how some of these phrases became commonplace.  Surely someone on the other side had to think about this before putting it in place.  And surely I’m not the only one who’s had this thought before.  I am quick to point out most mistakes in the English language, mainly during conversation.  I like to analyze things.

Another example is “Can I help you?”  This is a sure misfire in approaching customers that need assistance.  A better choice of verbiage is “What can I help you with?”

‘Can I help you’ is basically asking the person if you’re physically and/or mentally capable of helping a person.  You’re asking for permission to judge you and be deemed worthy to assist.  Most people aren’t mentally capable of doing anything but it seems to be a generic strategy in customer service.

“What can I help you with?’ is a better phrase because it’s open-ended and puts the spotlight on the customer to give a valid response.

Here I am giving customer service advice when my original statement was complaining about stupid phrases.

Don’t say I never taught you anything.

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