The question I’m most frequently asked is “How did you become The Phone Lady?” The answer is pretty straightforward. A trusted friend told me I needed to share what I knew about phone communication with everyone who’d listen and basically dared me to start this company. I am indebted to him for his insight and endless support. The question that’s been more difficult to answer is “Why the phone?”
I’ve attributed it to what I learned in my first business, phone skills that created steady cash flow and allowed others on my team to be successful salespeople. But then I realized that the phone skills I learned as a journalist are also integral to what I teach. And even before that, my life-saving job in university as a receptionist in a real estate office remains the foundation of my philosophy: no matter if you are in sales or customer service or accounting, how you behave on the phone impacts your company’s revenue.
It was over the summer, while working on new ideas, I realized that the telephone has played a big role in my life right from the very beginning. In my childhood home there was a black rotary wall phone that was constantly in use. From infant to teenager I was audience to conversations that filled the house with laughter, contained empathy and information, motivated volunteers, organized community activities and continually built relationships with friends and family.
This past weekend, I received strong evidence that the example my parents provided – of phone communication as something joyful, easy and essential, something to be cherished – is likely at the core of “Why the phone?’
The proof came from my 9-year-old granddaughter who called and left a message on my voice mail … selling magazine subscriptions. While her phone pitch doesn’t follow The Phone Lady preferred format, there’s no denying her excellent communication skills, her comfort on the phone and her ability to share information with great clarity.
Now, before you jump to the conclusion that this is about genes – it isn’t. I am blessed with a granddaughter by my oldest stepdaughter – no blood ties at all. However, what I know to be true is that since Naja was born, she has been audience to great phone communication. Since her mother was a teenager, she and I have talked on the phone almost everyday. In fact, both of Naja’s parents, who’ve had the opportunity to live in many different places around the world, are committed to staying in touch with family and friends … on the phone.
Which leads me to this thought: It’s not solely because of technology that young people are without phone communication skills. It’s also because their parents and other adult influencers have stopped talking on the phone, stopped providing the example. Think about this in your own life. What are you showing your children? How to text or how to talk? How to respond to email or how to have a conversation?
And setting an example doesn’t only apply to the young people in your life, it can relate to your staff as well. Are you expecting others to pick up the phone and talk while you sit and communicate with your thumbs?
Anyone – and perhaps everyone – is intimidated when faced with doing something they’ve never experienced or observed.
The ability to pick up the phone and communicate clearly is a skill that remains important and valuable in the business world. Will that be the case 10 years from now? I don’t know. It’s possible we’ll tap a device on our chest like in Star Trek and a hologram of the person we want to talk to will appear before us. But right now, today, and for at least the next 10 years, being able to communicate on the phone will be an admired and sought after skill.
So are you setting a good example?
Enjoy your PhoneWork everyone!