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New examples needed and a phone challenge for everyone

March 27, 2011
Mary Jane Copps

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Thanks to everyone who took the time to phone me, email me and stop me in the street (yes, this really happened!) to thank me for my recent blog postings. It has been an awesome experience for me – to have validation in real time that my comments and suggestions are helpful to others. Very exciting!

And a BIG thank you to Claudina Whisken for being such a good sport these past three weeks. Having her specific situation to use in the examples really did create a lot more clarity for all of us.

So … I’m looking for another “guinea pig”. Several people have written asking me to discuss how to use the phone during a job search and I’ll get this started in April. But I know the material will be much more powerful if I can work with real life examples. If you are willing to be part of one, or several, of my blog discussions, just scroll down to the “comments” section and send me a note. I’ll be in touch!

All this talk about what and how to talk on the phone is precisely what my “Ring Ring” workshop is all about. It is a fun day where you work with 9 other people to design, practice and build confidence in your phonework. There are a few spots left on April 12. Just click here to register: Ring Ring – I Am Cold Calling!

I continually analyze why I can do what I do on the phone. There are aspects of it that I don’t understand clearly enough to even write about. Why can I get on the phone with CEOs and VPs I have never spoken to and have them share with me, in less than 3 minutes, some of their business challenges and concerns? What makes this happen – the sound of my voice, the questions I ask, the words I choose?

I know all of these things play a role – as well as some very good luck – but one of the things I do consistently is focus. When I’m in conversation on the phone, I’m not doing anything else. I’m not checking email; I’m not tidying my desk; I’m not thinking about tomorrow. I am only talking and listening.

I had some true clarity about this last week, after I finished my blog post. As usual, I proofed it several times as a Word document. Then I proofed it at the submission stage and again at my website. Then I sent it out into the world – with errors in it! I can’t remember what they were at this moment but it makes me crazy when this happens. I used to be a very good proofreader. I spent years of my life as a journalist (some of them using a typewriter with a moving carriage!) and I was a self-competitive proofreader, always trying to deliver perfect copy to my editor.

Today I’m not a great proofreader because, I believe, I’m more distracted while I’m doing it. I’m not giving it the same singular focus I did years ago and … mistakes are the result.

And I believe this is what is happening in phone calls everywhere. We are not allowing our telephone conversations to be our singular focus. We believe we can multi-task and allow a wide-range of distractions to compete for our attention. The result … ineffective, incomplete and, in some cases, frustrating communication.

Here’s a challenge for this week. When you are on the phone, only be on the phone. Don’t do anything else. Allow yourself to truly focus on the conversation at hand. I promise you that you’ll hear things you’d normally miss, ask questions you wouldn’t usually think of and accomplish things that have been requiring a series of calls or email messages.

And share the results with us. Being able to continually learn from each other is one of the powerful gifts of social media. I’ll post your comments for everyone’s benefit.

Speaking of focus, I’m taking a few extra days in early April to have some undistracted writing time. My next blog post will be April 11.

Happy phonework everyone!

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