Powerful Words: Names

This past week I immersed myself in phonework for three solid days – a rare occurrence that I welcomed with excitement. (I know, I know, many of you think that is completely bonkers!) But dialing the phone to accomplish a specific goal is the foundation of The Phone Lady. Without my enjoyment of – and curiosity about – this specific task, my workshops and talks would have flat-lined years ago.

My calls focused on Toronto (more on this later), the United States and Nova Scotia. I learned a lot about new “trends” in telephone communication which I’ll be sharing with you here and at upcoming events. Perhaps most disturbing was the disappearance of what I consider to be the vital component of any telephone conversation – a person’s name.

Imagine for a moment that you are at a networking event. You approach someone and start talking. You don’t introduce yourself and you never once ask their name or structure the conversation to include their name. What kind of relationship will this build?

And imagine the reverse. You arrive at a company where someone meets you at the door. They shake your hand and say “hello” but they do not offer their name. You provide your name but they never use it during your conversation. How effective is your communication?

While it may seem obvious, my experience this past week indicates a reminder is necessary. Names are powerful and vital to great communication. Here’s some guidelines:

1) When you answer the phone, use your name. Each and every time you answer the phone, whether you know the caller or not, you are welcoming them to your company. A warm welcome over the phone, just as in person, includes your name.

2) Be attentive to names. When the person who answers uses their name, make note of it and use it in the conversation. This includes the receptionist, accounts receivable and security staff. A name offered is an honest human interaction and deserves respect and attention.

3) Make sure that your name is clear on your voicemail message. A garbled, rushed or, in some cases absent, name on an office voicemail is equivalent to knowing someone is approaching you and choosing to turn your back. It reflects badly on you as a professional, and on the entire organization.

My three days on the phone also provided some information on persistence:

From time to time I have the privilege of being part of a team that works with entrepreneurs wanting to grow their business in another province or country. There projects are both fun and stressful. There are deadlines. There are objectives.

My calls to Toronto related to one such project and I must say, it was tough going. The objective was seven meetings with potential clients and I got stalled at four – for days! The level of cynicism and panic I encountered was both frustrating and educational, likely the content of a future post.

In the end, expectations were exceeded with 11 meetings booked. What did it take to get those 11 meetings? I dialed the phone 100 times, I left 60 messages, 14 contacts returned my calls, I reached another 33 directly and … confirmed 11 meetings. The average is 1 in 10, which is exactly what I teach in all my workshops. How fun is that!


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What's The Phone Lady doing?


  • Remote learning experiences + one-on-one coaching for women entrepreneurs (More info about this three-year program here.)
  • Team and individual coaching with a national moving company to refine their sales process
  • Remote half-day training for provincial tourism representatives
  • Remote seven-part sales training program for US-based SaaS
  • Remote webinar on accounts receivable communication for industrial-services company
  • Remote webinar on validation to college students in entrepreneur program
  • In-person workshop on job search skills for women in the trades
  • Remote half-day webinar on written correspondence to customers

Do you or your team want to improve your communication skills? Do you have a communication question or challenge you'd like to discuss? This quick-to-fill-out form is easy to use and you'll hear from Mary Jane very soon.