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Melissa Aguiar
New member
Username: melissaaguiar

Post Number: 1
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 08:35 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I am a quite person and I usually answer phones at my office, seeing that there are only two of us here specifying!

EVERY TIME a rep calls they think that I am just a receptionist, and yesterday, one asked for my boss and I told the rep that she was unavailable at the time and may I be of some assistance, she told me, IN A HATEFUL TONE, "I don't think so".

I then told her my name and that I am a specifier as well, and you should have heard her tone change! It was like she realized she was talking to a rock star!

Anyway, this just bothers the _ e l l out of me. I think I deserve respect, I give it out to everyone I meet everyday, is it too much to ask that I receive such as well?

I would like to ask my experts in the field on how to handle this without being extremely rude by telling them to go kiss my project manual. ha. ha.

Melissa Aguiar, CSI, CDT, SCIP
Little Rock, AR
Julie Root
Username: julie_root

Post Number: 3
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 11:38 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Personally what really makes me more mad is the lack of respect some people have for receptionists. I know I use to answer the phone when I was a young architect working for a 3 person office. I learned a lot from tha experience. The stuff receptionists have to put up with in general is awful and they really can be the glue for a firm. I would like to see reps show genuine respect for everyone. In the long run I do know it pays off more business wise. From my experience - What goes around does come around.
Helaine K. Robinson CCS
Senior Member
Username: hollyrob

Post Number: 121
Registered: 07-2003
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 11:54 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Another problem, of course, is the automatic assumption of many people in the construction industry that any female employee is clerical staff. When I began writing specifications in 1986, I wasn't allowed to touch the word processor (later PC) because people would think that I was a secretary.
Lynn Javoroski
Senior Member
Username: lynn_javoroski

Post Number: 173
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 12:19 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

It seems to me that the basic problem is respect for women. Many years ago, men filled clerical positions (think Bob Crachit) and when women started into the work place, they were given these underling jobs.

Now, most office managers and receptionists are women and I shudder to think what my office would be like without them! My receptionist screens my calls and visitors and saves me countless hours of unwanted, unnecessary conversation. Our office manager is a gem beyond compare, dealing with everything from the temperature to paper towels, insurance forms to office meetings, dress code to Packer days.

These women, and thousands more, deserve respect.

People who don't or can't give respect are deficient in some deep mental way. Even if I am complaining about something, as I did this morning to whoever answered the phone, she deserved my respect.

Women do have problems getting respect in ways that most men do not - our voices are higher (a deeper voice conveys maturity and power), sometimes our names are juvenile as in Sandi (when Sandra implies a grown-up), visually we're usually smaller (bigger says power). There are probably more things that I'm not thinking of right now; some of these are things women can address and some are not. Men don't have these problems, although someone called "Bobby" or "Tommy" probably has a little more difficulty in the adult world.

The main issue is just plain disrespect for others. If we respond to disrespect with respect, maybe we can turn that around.
Melissa Aguiar
Junior Member
Username: melissaaguiar

Post Number: 2
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 12:34 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Well, not to stop this interesting turn of events here, but the person that was so incline to be god awful to me, was in fact, a young lady.
Tomas Mejia
Senior Member
Username: tmejia

Post Number: 14
Registered: 09-2003
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 12:37 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

The product reps are extra nice to our receptionist because they know my calls are screened and they want to get through to me. The callers who are rude are cold callers trying to sell us something and only want to speak to the decision makers.

Lynn, thanks. I never knew my life might be a little more difficult. (hehe)


or in the adult world

Tomas Mejia, CCS, CCCA, LEED, SCIP
Marc C Chavez
Senior Member
Username: mchavez

Post Number: 59
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 12:41 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I have often called a reps' or manufacturers’ office and have the phone answered by a woman. I try very hard to always assume that the person answering the phone may be the tech rep regardless of gender.

I know I am not always successful in keeping all prejudice and assumption from my behavior, but I do try. We all have prejudices. It’s important to recognize them and fight them on all occasions.

I had an architect in our office stop me in mid sentence and say “think like an architect… we need…” Assuming that as a spec writer I was either 1) not an architect or 2)clueless in some way.

I held my self in control and did not backhand him. I did not even yell at him. I did, however, tell him that I’d been managing projects since 1995 and that I understood his concerns.

As far as your problem with being so close to the front door that you are mistaken for admin.

I'd get a very tasteful sign that says something like "Senior Specifications Writer" Give the clueless twits some variety of hint as to the fact they ARE talking to the person that matters.

We should not have to do that but there are fools born every minute and many of them are at your door daily
Lynn Javoroski
Senior Member
Username: lynn_javoroski

Post Number: 174
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 12:42 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Some women (just like some men) have a need to elevate their own status by lowering that of those they meet.
Lynn Javoroski
Senior Member
Username: lynn_javoroski

Post Number: 175
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 12:44 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Two things are infinite; the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe. - Albert Einstein
Anne Whitacre, CCS CSI
Senior Member
Username: awhitacre

Post Number: 151
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 02:13 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

here's my two cents: I'm not an architect but I have been a specifier for the past 27 years and I don't recall having a problem with respect for at least the past 17 of them. I think a lot of the traits involved are pretty subtle and they are different for everyone.
First of all, I made an effort to divest my speech of "female speech patterns". I'm polite, but not solicitous; I ask tough questions of product reps both on the phone and in person, and generally throw around some "marker" of my experience. I also stopped ending my sentences with that pervasive female question mark (an upward tone) and kept the conversation on track. With people I know better, I have more personal conversations, but I purposely mimicked the men in their "office speech " patterns. I've also noticed that men often bluff their way through conversations, generally talk about how accomplished they are and what their experience is -- and I did all that.
I'm very straight-up with product reps, and give (and expect to get) the information we both need to do our jobs. If I encountered a difficult sales person, I went over his head, or told him the problem -- quietly and pretty dead pan.

in the office, I refuse to "help out" with typing or other administrative tasks, unless everyone is doing everything. when I was first working (in 1978) my boss did have to screen my workload, because there were people who tried to give me "secretarial work". They learned pretty quickly to not do that.

I am not deferential to men. I am deferential to experience, however, and to people older than me, which in my job, is usually men. I do expect the same deference for the same reason, and like a duck leading ducklings, I try to guide people to that. When we get to the "my job is bigger than your job" nonsense, as a spec writer I ALWAYS have the bigger job, and longer resume. That usually works.
Richard Baxter, AIA, CSI
Senior Member
Username: rbaxter

Post Number: 7
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 03:03 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I don't think it is so surprising for someone to assume that the person answering the office phone is a receptionist, female or not. Perhaps, you would solve the problem by stating your position in the firm when you answer the phone. Something like: “Hello, this is _________ , spec writer for _________, how may I help you?”

However, I do think it is extremely foolish for a Product Rep to treat ANYONE at an architectural office (or spec writer’s office) disrespectfully. A big part of their job is to win friends and influence people. Treating employees of the spec writer’s firm with disrespect does not accomplish this. This reminds me of a homeless guy who once called me derogatory names before begging me for some money. For some reason I didn’t feel inclined to help him out. I’m sure our receptionists would not hesitate to let me know what they thought of a Product Rep who treated them disrespectfully. Nor would I hesitate to consider leaving their products out of my specs. We don’t have to earn their respect. We have it by default. They are merely a resource for us. They need our approval if they want to be in our specs.
Melissa Aguiar
Username: melissaaguiar

Post Number: 3
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 03:12 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Richard, thank you very much for the answer. Simple, yet, PERFECT!

I think I will start saying that on the phone, it might just help!

Melissa (a.k.a. "Mad Spec Writer" in adult world!) he. he.
But come to think of it, what spec writer is not?
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 04:09 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I've recently had an experience with a manufacturer (not a rep) who has treated a Project Manager in our office disrespectfully by trying to strong arm us into using their product exclusively. We work in the public sector so are required to specify several equivalent manufacturers for each product. This particular manufacturer has previously insinuated that they felt they were superior to their competitors.

I must add, we have been working with this manufacturer's local rep as well as several of their competitors over the past several months to revise our spec to "level the playing field" so to speak. It has been tough because the product may well be superior. Though close, there may not be an actual equal. However, the competitors, by getting UL testing and current ICC reports, modifying their assembly slightly, changing adhesive, etc. could easily become equal. This is what this manufacturer wants, and they feel they can do that by pushing us to write our spec around their product which would force the other guys to raise the bar. I mean, granted, why force them to lower their quality to compete; it should be the lesser manufacturer’s responsibility to raise their quality, right? Or no? And we aren't talking that much difference, they really are all almost identical. But I also don’t want to give them ammo to pick apart our spec or to corner the market and raise their prices by being exclusive. After all, we endeavor to provide the best “value” to our clients. Quality vs. cost.

So as it goes, this PM in our firm needed some CAD details for this particular product, so he sent a request to the technical department at the manufacturer. Several hours later, the PM gets a response back from the manufacturer’s national sales manager stating:

“Here is the drawing you requested. To be honest, we usually don’t provide this type of service to firms that treat our competitors as equals in their specifications”.

The utter arrogance! As you can imagine, there were some partners and principals who lost a few buttons on their shirts around here. First thought, oh well, we’ll just write them out of the spec. (still considering…;o/) Unfortunately, we have clients who prefer this product over the competitors, and we are one of the regions biggest users of this product. It could hurt them here. So, as professionals, we called the local product rep into our office for a face to face. The rep had been cc’d on the email from the manuf. so knew what was had happened. I found it disturbing though that I had to call him first. At the least, he should have pre-empted immediately to do damage control. After all, it wasn’t his fault that the manuf. reacted this way, was it? Anyway, he promised a formal written apology from this sales manager. Not that it matters, it won’t take away the sting.
Melissa Aguiar
Intermediate Member
Username: melissaaguiar

Post Number: 4
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 04:17 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Speaking of sting...

I paint rep of some more than 25 years experience in the field decided that he was going to do a AIA presentation for one of our clients and this rep, belittled a young architect lady, by stating that primer on gypsumboard is the same as women using foundation before putting on the rest of the makeup every morning.

He kept asking her if she understood what he was discussing with the other men in the presentation.

Needless to say, his boss, his bosses boss, etc called all of us to apologize.

Then we have not heard from him again, until today. He came into this office and apologized again and wanted to join CSI and do whatever it took to get to know the construction field better.

I felt so much better. Like a previous post said, what comes around goes around.
Ronald L. Geren, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA
Senior Member
Username: specman

Post Number: 75
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 04:31 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

To Anonymous:

Although this is going a bit off course from the original intent of the thread, I'll try to keep this short (maybe you could ask the same question under a new subject).

Almost all of my experience is on public projects, both as a consultant to, and as an owner's rep for, public entities. Although the owner might desire the so-called "superior" product, you have to determine what the actual requirements are. Once you've determined those requirements, then compare them to the available products.

If the "superior" product is the only one that can satisfy those requirements, then there may be grounds for "sole sourcing" the product. However, the requirements shouldn't be inflated to ensure the "superior" product is the only one that can fill the bill; if challenged, the owner (or you) will have to justify the requirements.
Lynn Javoroski
Senior Member
Username: lynn_javoroski

Post Number: 176
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 05:40 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Anne, you make some very good points and I agree with everything you wrote. I just listened to one half of a phone conversation by a young woman in our marketing department (not by choice). Every sentence ended on an upward, question-type of tone. It's astonishing how immature that single, simple habit made her sound and how unsure of herself it made her seem.

Speaking with authority and confidence, expecting to be treated as an equal, and using my favorite CYA phrase "I'll get back to you on that" go a long way toward gaining respect from everyone.

I also tell everyone I'm not a typist - and I'm not. I'm fairly quick and accurate, but I look at the keys. And usually, I'm thinking as I type.
John Bunzick, CCS, CCCA
Senior Member
Username: bunzick

Post Number: 307
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 05:51 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Flip side of the typist story: I took tying in high school so I could type "term papers". Who knew then that it would be an everyday skill needed by most professionals with the advent of PCs. About twenty years ago the engineering firm I worked for got a PC, and put it in an area where anyone could use it. I started to type my own memos because it was faster than writing them out long hand, having them typed, marking them up for edits, and having them retyped. My boss questioned me--typing was considered "secretary's work" (at least he didn't say "women's work"!). Of course, now I don't know anybody who actually has a secretary to do clerical tasks for them!
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 06:24 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

<I'm fairly quick and accurate, but I look at the keys.>

I do too .... now if I can just get those d#@n keys to spell correctly. <G>
Dennis Hall (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 09:10 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post


I think many design professionals have experienced similar situations. I have sat in on presentations by product reps who were clearly making misrepresentations of products (both theirs and others) and assume that I was just some dumb architect they can snow. When they find out that it is my mane on the door and that I have more than a little experience in design and construction, the tone really changes.

I recall a design consultant that stopped by recently looking for work and began discussing "Division 17" and their experience with this subject. You can't believe the looks on the faces of the folks in my office as I let this idiot dig his hole deeper and deeper until he found out that he was in far over his head with someone that knew what he was talking about.

I am sure we all have plenty of similar stories. But I don't think you have a problem with rude, ignorant people. It is they that have the real problem. As long as you know what you are doing and have confidence in yourself, you are the person with the power and have no reason let these folks control your emotions. You control the content of the specifications regardless of your title, gender, or age; and that is a responsibility that should be respected.

Personally, I have reached a position where I don't care for people to treat me with respect because of title or a few initials after my name. They need to treat me with respect because I am a human being with knowledge of what I am doing.

Don't let this experience get you down. Just smile and enjoy them shooting themselves in the foot, or sometimes a little higher.

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