Right Message – Wrong Words … and a few other bits

This week I did one of my favorite things. I delivered my three-hour Telephone Talent workshop to SEB students in Halifax. It was a great group. There were lots of questions, everyone participated, they had fun, I had fun and then … things got heated.

It was the time in the workshop where everyone has a chance to do a pitch – to set aside their fear of cold calling and give it a try. While I was making my way around the room, I felt I had to address the situation I discussed in last week’s blog – accents.

Now you know, part of me has always believed that I haven’t been dealing with this issue perfectly, that I was missing something but I didn’t know what it was. Fortunately for me, Shelly let me know my error loud and clear … everyone has an accent! I come across like a privileged spoiled white girl when I don’t acknowledge this and – I’m sorry. I know better.

Now this is a pet peeve for Shelly, so the discussion was a wee bit uncomfortable for some of the people in the room, entertaining for others, but very important to me, because she is right. All of us do have an accent. So, what we all need to keep in mind is … does our way of speaking work for our customer? And if not, how do we adjust so that it does work for the customer.

Right now, I’m lucky. Most of my phone work is taking place right here in Atlantic Canada, so my accent isn’t an issue. But, as I shared with you in earlier posts, when I had to call into Toronto after not working in that marketplace for five years, I had lost a bit of my Ontario-speak. Not an accent exactly, but certainly a way of communicating. I had to adjust in order to be heard effectively. As I’ve said more than once, and will probably repeat a hundred times more, it isn’t about you. It’s about communicating with your customers and your potential customers. If your way of speaking is getting in the way … figure it out!

Now that same workshop landed me a lovely little blog review which you can read here:http://bit.ly/c8BT36. Thanks Mila Milojevic of Milovation Media!

And finally, a word about your voicemail message, the one people hear when they call you. In today’s world your voicemail is your receptionist. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a live person at the front desk, chances are your customers, potential customers and suppliers are still getting shifted to your voicemail. Make sure it’s working as a receptionist, your avatar if you will, giving people the information they need to communicate with you effectively. Why do I bring this up? Because an important project almost went off the rails this week. Someone I needed to communicate with around a tight deadline became ill, wasn’t in the office. I was calling her direct line, always getting voicemail. It gave no indication that she was out of the office. You can see where this is going. Fortunately, after two days of messages, I did hit “0” and discovered the problem.

But we are well past the time of the generic voicemail messages. You need to be working with the power of your voicemail. Phone in; change the message. Communicate!

Happy phonework everyone!

Leave a comment

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.