How good are your telephone skills?

By Morag Barrett on April 5, 2012

Posted by Morag Barrett | April 5, 2012How good are your telephone skills?It seems to me that telephone etiquette is slipping, whether it’s being put on hold while the person you talk to ‘answers the other line’, having to listen to others ‘enjoying’ their lunch or worse still, sitting in a public environment and having to listen to another person’s call that has nothing to do with you.With so much business being conducted by phone, whether it is a business conference call, a client meeting, a job interview that it surprises me how little time and attention people pay to the impression they give over the phone.If you are about to make (or receive) a critical telephone call don’t leave it to chance, a few minutes of preparation can make all the difference between a professional impression and a disaster.1. Prepare and practiceIf this call is important, then think about what you want to achieve in the time available.  Make a note of the points you want to cover or questions you want to ask and keep it close to hand.  It is also a good habit to identify what the other party might want to get out of the call… if in doubt you can always ask:“We have 30 minutes, what would you like to achieve in that time?”Take the time to practice the phone call, either alone or get someone else to help practice with you.2. Have pen and paper to handHow often have you had to pause when someone says “Hang on a minute… I need to find a pen”, make sure you have everything you need before you answer the call.  Write down the caller’s name, phone number and any other information you need.  Make sure to use their name throughout the call.3. Location, Location, LocationTaking that critical call on a cell phone in the middle of a busy street is not a good idea.  Plan ahead, if you can’t take the call from home or your office, then sitting in your car can help cut background noise.  If you are at your desk, then remove the distractions, switch your computer (screen) off, the temptation to check email while you are on a call is almost too hard for many of us to resist, Don’t Do It!If you receive a call and you aren’t in a convenient location either DON’T ANSWER and call back a few minutes later when you are, or else ask them to call back later.  Whatever you do… the restroom is NOT the place for phone calls.  You may laugh, but I have lost count of the number of times I have heard people on the phone in restrooms… trust me, the person on the other end of the phone can hear everything!4. Smile and Introduce YourselfIt’s a simple tactic and really does make a difference, you will sound happier and it will help you to relax.  Smile as you introduce yourself, and make sure you say your name clearly.  Stand up during the call, it can help you to feel more confident and come across more assertive.5. Allow for SilenceA phone conversation should have natural pauses, don’t feel you have to rush to fill the dead space.  Use it to think about the question you have been asked, and the answer you want to give.  Allow your listener time to hear your questions and consider their response before you fill the empty space with another thought or question.6. Next StepsEnsure you finish the telephone call with a summary of the next steps, when to meet in person or the date and time of the next phone conversation.  Thank the other person for their time.  Your purpose is to keep moving the decision / process forward, agreeing what happens after the call ensures that things don’t fall off the radar.Taking the time to be well prepared for an important telephone call will pay off.  Don’t leave your reputation and the impression you leave to chance.Related ArticlesTags »communicationEmotional Intelligenceleadership development denverleadership training coloradoteam building coloradoteam building denver Share
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