Turn the tables and Ask them..
1. John's not in, is he?
"yes" he is
2. He's not in a meeting is he?
"no he's not" will be the reply
3. He's not on the phone is he?
"no, he's not."
4. OK, put me through, please
Stop answering their questions, and start ASKING them questions from the "off"....
PAs, receptionists expect you to present on the phone and SELL - not ask them questions They're so used to asking you - Who are you, which company are you from, who do you want to speak to.
Head them off at the pass.
Hope that gets you thinking.
Try it, and let me know how you get on.