A Lesson From The Front Row

March 11, 2018
Mary Jane Copps

She was one of the last arrivals to the workshop and ended up sitting in the front row. In the crowded space, I could almost reach out and touch her. For 90 minutes I was aware of her furrowed brow and how, when others laughed at my jokes, she remained serious. My inner critic started to mutter, “You’re missing the mark. You’re not reaching her. You’re blowing it.” But in the end, as everyone shared what they’d heard, what they’d learned, her words contained the biggest lesson – for all of us.

I hate the phone,” she shared with everyone. “I do anything to avoid making a phone call. But what I learned today is that talking on the phone is a skill and that I can acquire that skill. I did not know that before.


We often forget that everything we do each day … everything … is a skill we had to learn. If you’ve had infants in your life, you’ve seen this in action as they figure out how to walk.

First they watch their role models with a deep curiosity, then they attempt to stand by holding on to that role model’s fingers. This is followed by their first tentative step – and their bum hitting the floor! They repeat and repeat and repeat this pattern until, one day, they walk … and they never look back.

It’s the same with communicating effectively on the phone. But in our email/text-filled world, it is much more difficult for people to acquire the necessary skills because that first step, having a role model, isn’t always available.

If there’s no one around illustrating the importance and value of speaking on the phone, you will be afraid, uncomfortable and filled with self doubt when faced with dialing a number and inspiring conversation. You are going to dislike/hate the task and assume you can’t do it.

You need a role model.

Two things for each of us to consider:

  1. Are you being a role model? If you believe in the power and importance of phone conversations, are you illustrating this to those around you? Are you providing others with the opportunity to learn from you?
  2. Do you need a role model? Is effective phone communication a skill you want to acquire? Who can you approach to share the skill set with you?

Please use the comment section below to share your thoughts and experiences.



Where’s The Phone Lady?

March 12 – Phone Fear to Phone Fabulous, CBDC NOBL, Truro, NS

March 13 – Communication Skills that Build Revenue, Digital Nova Scotia, East Hants, NS

March 15 – Phone Skills for Job Search & On The Job, Job Junction, Halifax, NS

March 19 – Phone Skills for Job Search & On The Job, Futureworx, Truro, NS

March 20 – Phone Skills for Teens, South Colchester Academy, Brookfield, NS

March 21 – Phone Skills for Job Search & On The Job, OWL (Older Wiser Labourforce), Halifax, NS

March 21 – Phone Skills for Fund Raising, QEII Health Sciences Centre Foundation, Halifax, NS

March 22 – THRIVE Business Growth Conference, Sackville, NS

March 23 – Telephone Talent: Essential Phone Skills to Reach Clients & Book Appointments, TD Bank, Webinar

March 24 – Panel Discussion – Today’s Sales Necessities: What Every Entrepreneur MUST Know About Selling, EDCE, Halifax

March 27 – Telephone Talent: Essential Phone Skills to Reach Clients and Book Appointments, Prime Lift, Dartmouth

April 4 – Phone Fear to Phone Fabulous, CEED, Halifax, NS

April 10 – Telephone Talent: Essential Phone Skills to Reach Clients & Book Appointments, TD Bank, Webinar

April 11 – Uncovering the Hidden Job Market – By Phone, Halifax Central Library, Halifax, NS

April 12 – Phone Fear to Phone Fabulous, CBDC NOBL, New Glasgow, NS

April 13 – Phone Skills for Job Search & On The Job, Futureworx, Tatamagouche, NS

April 16 – Phone Skills that Build Relationships, TD Canada Trust, Toronto

April 19 – Phone Skills that Build Relationships, TD Canada Trust, Vancouver



  1. Jacqueline Steudler says:

    Good points. I remember when my mother made me call a possible summer job place to make an appointment to drop of my resume. It was so frightening. She coached me before I made the call. My heart was pounding when I dialed (by turning a disk with numbered holes (smile)). Today I prefer calling over email.

    • The Phone Lady says:

      So lovely that your mom coached you before you made the call, Jacqueline. And she also allowed you to do the work. A great teaching/learning experience. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Peggy says:

    Great story!

    Mine goes like this: When I was about 10, I remember my mother making me phone for a taxi and I was so nervous, but of course I did it. Today, I’m quite comfortable phoning potential clients after all that I have learned from you – as you say, it is a learnable skill.

    To this day though, I hate phoning for a cab or for a pizza. I’ll let you figure that one out!

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Moms are certainly good at helping us learn new skills. And you are fantastic on the phone, Peggy. Obviously, the taxi/pizza thing has some trauma attached to it. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  3. Janet says:

    Thought provoking! And great that you learn and are inspired by your students/customers.

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Thanks, Janet. It feels like a learn something new at every workshop, but can’t always create a story from it. You are making me realize I should pay closer attention.

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