The Phone Lady's Blog

Inspire Conversation

customer service

Honor Your Intuition + A Well-Kept Secret

By Mary Jane Copps | February 13, 2022

All of us have access to intuition – flashes of insight or wisdom we often ignore because they seem to contradict what we most rely on – our intellectual, emotional and creative skills. Acknowledging, listening and acting on our intuition is uncomfortable. It can even … Read more

Tap Into Your Intuition

By Mary Jane Copps | February 5, 2022
woman waiting for elevator

In the early ’80s, when Toronto’s Spadina Avenue was still home to some of the very best Jewish delicatessens in the country, I entered the lobby of a heritage building. I was there to pick up the final prints from a friend’s recent photo shoot. … Read more

Park Your Intent and Find the Story

By Mary Jane Copps | January 30, 2022

Recognizing and working with the dual nature of intent is vital for us to become great storyfinders – and inspire amazing conversations. Yes, we do need to prepare and have an intention, goal, purpose for our business conversations. When speaking with both customers/clients and prospects, … Read more

The Paradox of “Intent”

By Mary Jane Copps | January 22, 2022
woman driving

In our quest to excel at storyfinding – uncovering what our prospects and clients truly want and need through conversation – we need to know that sabotage lurks in our intent. While it is essential to prepare for our conversations, and to know the outcome … Read more

Assumptions: My Most Embarrassing Story

By Mary Jane Copps | January 16, 2022

Many years ago, while visiting a dear friend in Toronto, we decided to walk past a house in Kensington Market we had once owned and lived in together. A mom was working in the front garden with her young son nearby and we had a … Read more

How to Ditch Your Assumptions

By Mary Jane Copps | January 8, 2022
woman at desk talking on the phone

“You don’t know what you don’t know.” Donald Rumsfeld The biggest threat to storyfinding – uncovering the true challenge, desire and/or “why” of our prospects and clients – is assumptions. Assumptions are tricky creatures. The word assumption comes to us from the 1590s and means … Read more

Improvise to Create Unique Experiences

By Mary Jane Copps | January 2, 2022

As I write this I remain uplifted and energized by many of the conversations I enjoyed during the less-hectic holiday season. Each one was unique; each one filled with laughter, storytelling, hopes and challenges. None of them were planned. They each blossomed in the moments … Read more

You Can – and Must – Improvise

By Mary Jane Copps | December 18, 2021
2 coffee cups on porch

As our computers and telephones have merged and landed in our hands instead of on a desk, an unintended consequence has surfaced. We are tapping and scrolling and writing and reading more than we are talking. This means there’s a lot of “communication” happening but … Read more

Being Vulnerable in Conversation

By Mary Jane Copps | December 12, 2021

Did you know that you are already vulnerable in most of your personal conversations? It’s definitely possible you’ve never noticed. However, the memorable, exciting and in-depth conversations you’ve had with family, friends and colleagues did require you to be vulnerable. Great business conversations also require … Read more

Unleash Your Vulnerability

By Mary Jane Copps | December 4, 2021
man talkng on phone in office

Several years ago, while working with a very enthusiastic group of salespeople in Toronto, something totally unexpected happened. We were all together in a beautiful classroom space in the city’s financial district. All the latest technology was available. The coordinator was charming and funny, the … Read more

How to “Own Your Tone”

By Mary Jane Copps | November 28, 2021

Most of us completely ignore the tone of our voice. Of course, we realize when our anger, or sarcasm, or impatience has had an impact on others. But on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis, we remain ignorant about how our tone is impacting our conversations. And … Read more

Own Your Tone to Inspire Conversation

By Mary Jane Copps | November 20, 2021
woman and man having a conversation

Our tone of voice is something we tend to take for granted. We often ignore it completely. And we have a tendency to deny its impact – how it can welcome and motivate others, or shut down and silence them. In fact, every time we … Read more

Noticing Nuance in Conversation

By Mary Jane Copps | November 14, 2021

Nuance is definitely one of the most difficult skills of storyfinding. It requires us to be completely present in our conversations and intently listening, not only to words and sentences but to everything around those words and sentences. Next, we have to respond to what … Read more

Acknowledging Nuance in our Communication

By Mary Jane Copps | November 7, 2021
woman yawning

Nuance is such an elegant, fancy word. It conjures up images of ballet and opera, poetry and classical music. And we might associate it with the work of great actors too, like Elizabeth Moss or Meryl Streep. Nuance is certainly connected with all these things. … Read more

The Impact of Empathy

By Mary Jane Copps | October 31, 2021

Empathy is not only the champion of storyfinding but also the no-fail creator of trust, loyalty and clear communication. Why? Because recognizing and honouring the emotional content of any situation allows us to provide solutions that go far beyond the surface problems or challenges. Empathy … Read more

The Logic of Employing Empathy

By Mary Jane Copps | October 24, 2021
woman talking on the phone

The details we can uncover about an individual or an organization through a website, a Google search or reviewing an internal file are all extremely valuable and they do support our ability to be a storyfinder. But often, they are only the tip of the … Read more

Preparation: Less Equals More

By Mary Jane Copps | October 17, 2021

Preparation is an essential element of storyfinding. It allows us to develop and ask great questions. The challenge is finding the right balance between scant and excessive research. The key to successful preparation lies in understanding how it supports our ability to discover more through … Read more

Ignite Your Curiosity

By Mary Jane Copps | October 3, 2021

Storyfinding allows us to create communication and service excellence with both prospects and customers. The first element is curiosity, which is a HUGE topic. This video includes more information about curiosity, as well as examples of how it can be used … or not. Enjoy … Read more

Curiosity Did Not “Kill The Cat”!

By Mary Jane Copps | September 26, 2021
woman on video call

“Curiosity is the engine of achievement.” Sir Ken Robinson Allowing curiosity to guide our conversations is the first step of storyfinding. With both prospects and customers, curiosity helps us clarify and deliver on expectations, reveal additional ways to serve and work together, and continually build … Read more

Discover Storyfinding + Examples

By Mary Jane Copps | September 19, 2021

The comparison between storytelling and storyfinding created feedback and excitement here on this blog, and also on social media and directly via email. Thanks! In my 16 years teaching communication skills, I’ve always focused on the importance of asking great questions. And on constantly improving … Read more

Storytelling vs Storyfinding

By Mary Jane Copps | September 12, 2021

Circa 1963: I’m sent to bed early, where I strain my ears to catch every sound, word and movement of my uncles and dad in the living room below. There is the rattle of ice and the splash of rye or rum, the click of … Read more

What’s Popular on LinkedIn?

By Mary Jane Copps | August 29, 2021

LinkedIn is my “go to” social media network. It’s where I stay in touch with colleagues around the world and gather and read articles that support my business growth. And it’s a vital element of my sales process. It’s also where I share my own … Read more

What Alzheimer’s has Taught Me About Communication

By Mary Jane Copps | July 3, 2021

In June of 2017 my husband, David, and I sat in the office of a kind and compassionate doctor who gently told us that David had early-onset Alzheimer’s. There were the expected moments of silence, then lots of effusive optimism and cheerfulness. There’s no correct … Read more

Being Customer-Centric … Even on Vacation!

By Mary Jane Copps | June 18, 2021
empty office

Picture this … it’s mid-July or late August. You call a company or individual for some necessary information. They are on vacation, which is to be expected – especially this summer! What’s unexpected, frustrating and annoying is the voicemail message you reach. The message you … Read more

Elevate Your Customer Service: Focused and Successful Inbound Phone Conversations

By Mary Jane Copps | April 10, 2021
composing music

Picture it. A darkened movie theatre in 1973. Paul Newman and Robert Redford are mesmerizing in The Sting. What captures my attention? The music. Scott Joplin‘s ragtime, combined with an existing fascination with Nat King Cole, sparked my life-long romance with jazz. I’ve listened to … Read more

Elevate Your Customer Service: Effective and Efficient Conversations

By Mary Jane Copps | March 27, 2021
man planning a phone call

It happens to all of us. We finish a conversation with a client and feel, well, unaccomplished. Perhaps the next steps aren’t clearly agreed upon. Or important items are completely forgotten and another conversation needs to be booked. It doesn’t have to be this way. … Read more

Making the Move from Nice to Kind

By Mary Jane Copps | January 30, 2021
home delivery with care

In the past 12 months, I’ve experienced a substantial increase in requests for customized reception and customer service training. And I say “yes” as quickly and as often as possible. My interest in phone communication was sparked early in childhood, by the major role the … Read more

Email Assumptions Revealed by Persistent Follow-up

By Mary Jane Copps | January 17, 2021
woman using laptop

As 2020 ended and 2021 began I found myself in the midst of an unusual communication challenge. In mid-November, the head of a medical team filled out my website Assessment Form, looking for information on phone skills for front desk staff. Through a series of … Read more

When 911 Calls You

By Mary Jane Copps | December 19, 2020
male operator

About five years ago, I connected with Donald O’Connor on Twitter. Since then we have created a friendship founded on our shared interest and passion in sales and communication. Earlier this year, when he attended one of my monthly webinars, I discovered his wealth of great … Read more

Communicate Clearly Even When You’re Not Working

By Mary Jane Copps | December 12, 2020
phone on desk

Even though we’ve all been spending more time having video meetings this year, our global pandemic has also created a bit of a renaissance for phone conversations. The challenge has been – and remains – how to reach people on the phone. Have they returned … Read more

Radio New Zealand logo
How to tackle your telephone hang-ups. People with bad cases of telephone anxiety can experience nausea, increased heart rate and shortness of breath at the sound of a ringtone. Listen in...

Phone Phobia Hits the News

Phone phobia, or telephobia, has been getting a lot of attention in the news recently. See what Mary Jane has to say about it...
Margins of Error with Harry Enten
CNN's Harry Enten asks why we’re avoiding phone calls and whether we can be coached through our telephone-related nerves in this Margins of Error podcast featuring Mary Jane.
This Hour Has 22 Minutes
22 Minutes correspondent, Brandon Hackett, figures out which end is up on this thing called a telephone, with help from The Phone Lady. Watch Telephone Lessons for Millennials.
The Wall Street Journal.
Banks Curtail Employee Use of Voice Mail: Voice mail is viewed as an expensive vestige of a bygone era. See what The Phone Lady has to say.