- Written by Janika LeMaitre -
Clear communication when talking on the phone is underrated. You probably don't notice when someone knows how to do it well. But, it takes a person who shows terrible phone skills to recognize what a real difference it makes to create a refined reputation. Furthermore, doesn't it leave a bad impression?
There are three different scenarios of communication; the first with someone you’re establishing a rapport with, the second where you’re getting to know them; and the third when you’re talking with someone you know very well. However, even with your friends and family, it’s important to treat them with as much respect as you would a stranger or colleague.
Let’s start with rapport building. It goes without saying, you never want to come across as rude on the phone, yet it can easily be avoided 100% of the time if you:
Smile before answering. An excellent trick to incorporate for outgoing calls is to remember to “Smile & Dial.”
Use this phrase: “Hello this is (____Your name____) speaking. May I ask who’s calling?”
Professionally, if you know the person calling specifically, use this phrase: “Hello (___Their name___), what can I do for you today?”
If it’s a personal call, then try this phrase: “Hello (___Their name___). It’s nice to hear from you. How have you been doing?”
If you’re reading this article, you may already know about exchanging niceties on any phone call, such as asking about what’s happening in their world or if there's something of note coming up on their agenda.
Some people love to divulge a lot of information. Wait until there’s a pause in the conversation. That’s the best time to move on and find out why they’re calling.
Generally, time is of the essence, especially if you're in a business setting. However, this depends on how well you know the person. If you don’t know them at all, getting to the core reason for why they are calling might be pretty straightforward.
When finishing a call, there are a couple of points to remember, such as:
Round out the conversation. (Make sure it feels complete for the other party and not too rushed.);
Relay an action plan;
Double-check any related time frames;
Confirm contact information;
Wish the person with whom you are conversing well. (This one should be second nature by now, right?)
Here is an example of how you should finish your conversation if you are speaking with a new acquaintance you met at a luncheon who enjoyed your recipe conversation:
“Charlie, I’m so glad to hear from you and appreciate your calling. I’ll be sure to send you the recipe for bread pudding that I found. To confirm, I have your current email address as firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be in touch soon. Please give my best to (___ Name of Charlie’s colleague/partner/mutual acquaitance___).”
If you happen to call someone you know, such as a friend or close colleague, the best-case scenario is to text them first and ask when it’s a good time to speak. That way, you are not providing them a dilemma of seeing your call come in and panicking because they don't have time then and there and can’t talk to you. On the other hand, they may feel rude sending your call to voicemail; your time is precious, and so is theirs. Check with them ahead of time to get a call on the calendar so you plan a time without interruption and conflicting appointments.
In addition, when you call someone and don’t know them well, always offer your name and how you were connected.
An example would be: “Hello Jerry. It’s is Alexa Johnson here. Nina Waters introduced us last week at the committee meeting. Is this a good time to speak?” The recipient of your call will be allowed to back out of the conversation and say no without feeling pressured. They will most likely give you a day and time when they can give you their full attention.
Your phone manners are essential. And surprisingly, you can establish great relationships with others when you communicate with good etiquette. Show others you are a better professional and know how to be courteous on the phone.
About the author, Janika LeMaitre
Jan is a certified etiquette advisor, specializing in personal brand strategy. Her mission is to provide life-changing soft skills for business owners and industry trail-blazers to self-manage and evolve their reputation. Jan is certified with the Protocol School of Washington® and The British School of Excellence™. In addition, she is the board president of Women's Business Group Connects, and as a second-generation Rotarian, proudly serves as a board director at the Rotary Club of Weston & Wayland.
Download your complimentary copy of Jan's "Handling Gender-Neutral Pronouns With Style" quick guide here.