Listen Up!

November 1, 2009
Mary Jane Copps

I had a phone call this week about my last post. The caller revealed that they most feared misunderstanding information they were given on the phone. “I get so nervous when I have to write down a phone number. A name is even worse. I just know I won’t get it right.” This fear is listening based, and I’ve mentioned before that one of THE most important skills on the telephone is the ability to listen. You don’t have eye contact or body language to rely on – only what you hear. And when we are nervous to start with, our ability to listen deteriorates. How do we deal with this? We learn to be comfortable asking for the information to be repeated. We are putting a lot of pressure on ourselves to think that we will always understand perfectly and/or transcribe accurately names and phone numbers we hear for the first time. There is absolutely nothing unprofessional about saying “I’m sorry, can you repeat that?” or “My pen couldn’t keep up – can you repeat the last four numbers please?” Also of value is repeating the information back. It provides another opportunity to discover errors. What’s important to remember is that the ability to “catch” names and phone numbers quickly and accurately comes with practice. The more phone calls you make and the more you gather information from other people, the more expert you become at hearing and transcribing that information correctly. And thanks for the post on liking the challenge you’ve discovered in your phone calls. It is one of the things I enjoy too and I’ll be talking about it more in future posts. Please keep sending in ideas, information, feedback on your “phone work”. I love hearing from you!

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