How are you?
The phone rings, and you pick it up and the caller says "How are you?"
Hot "Hello", not "This is so-and-so calling (from such-and-such an organisation). But "How are you?"
As the columnist pointed out, that is fine for face to face conversations, where you can see the person who is speaking, but on the phone it comes across as abominably rude, and I certainly want to respond "Who wants to know?"
I suspect that this phenomenon is not unlinked to the proliferation of "call centres" and the outsourcing of enquiries to commercial firms. They are probably training their operators to say this in order to give the impression of the caring personal touch.
But to me it sounds utterly phony (excuse the pun) and rude, and immediately puts my back up. And so I was glad to see that newspaper column, to know that I'm not alone in feeling this way.