The contestants roll their shoulders and lick their lips. The audience holds its breath. At the center of attention on stage at an expansive convention hall: a single telephone.
It rings. The annual All-Japan Phone-Answering Competition for office workers has begun.“How may I help you today?” a young contestant in a checked vest and skirt uniform says in Japanese after she picks up the phone, her hand visibly shaking. She chirps through the salutations in the high-pitched voice preferred by Japanese bosses for decades. She nods and bows, smiles and then grimaces in what appears to be nervousness and sheer effort. “I’m always at your service,” she says.
For over a half-century, office workers from companies across Japan have gathered each year to battle it out for the title of Japan’s best phone answerer.
Read the rest of the story: Japan’s Top Voice – High, Polite and on the Phone.