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Making Connections

April 7, 2013
Mary Jane Copps

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I was recently interviewed for an article in a local newsletter. The young woman asked great questions and our conversation took us in many directions, including her relationship with the telephone.

She comes from the generation for whom the phone is more about text and email than it is about conversation. But as we talked about my work as The Phone Lady she had a realization.

“One of my friends that I rarely see because we are both so busy with jobs and school, we do make a point to call each other whenever we can and we’ll talk on the phone for two hours at a time. With my other friends where I never really talk to them on the phone and we only text or email, when I see them it feels like there’s been a loss of connection, like its been awhile. But when I get together with the friend I talk to on the phone all the time, its like there hasn’t even been a day between us.”

Exactly! There is an intimacy to phone communication that cannot be replicated in print. To build and expand relationships with our customers, potential customers, family and friends … we need to pick up the phone.

Now no matter how polished our phone skills, when we contact someone who is not in our target market, it is unlikely we’ll make a connection. Here’s an embarrassing but funny story to serve as illustration:

Last week I had the honour of working with the sales staff at the Toronto Downtown Eaton Centre Marriott. I flew in the day before and enjoyed a fabulous night’s sleep in a gorgeous room. I got on the elevator in the morning very energized and excited about spending the day with the team.

(I should share with you that Toronto is “home” to me. I lived there for 20 years. It’s the place where I did most of my growing up and where I began my life as an entrepreneur. But I’ve been in Halifax 16 years now, and over the years when I return to Toronto it has become harder and harder to “put on” my big city demeanor.)

Anyway, back to the elevator. At the fifth floor the doors open and a business woman is standing there with her suitcase. I should have taken in that she was a bit tired and stressed; I should have remembered that I was in Toronto. But I didn’t. The door opened and I said – with way too much enthusiasm – “Good Morning. How are you? ”

The woman walked into the elevator pulling her luggage behind her. Her response, said with the utmost of sarcasm, was “Living the dream, thanks.”

And me? I missed the sarcasm completely. Instead, because it was how I felt in that moment, I said “That’s great. So am I.”.

She looked at me briefly and I realized she believed me to be completely crazy.

She was definitely not my target market and I definitely didn’t engage her in conversation. But the memory of this encounter continues to make me laugh. Too, too funny!

Happy dialing everyone.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Linda Daley says:

    What a great story. You’re right, there are some people we’ll never connect with comfortably no matter what our skill. And then there are those we can ‘break down’ over time of course too. Your Toronto story reminded me of when I first moved there. I was 25 and moving from an office/warehouse with 6 people to a building with 200+ people. Whenever I passed someone in the hall, I’d say “good morning!”. In the beginning I got looked at like I had 2 heads. I persisted and won them over eventually.

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