The Phone Lady's Blog

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phone etiquette

One Simple Skill To Improve Every Outbound Call

By Mary Jane Copps | September 9, 2023
business man talking on the phone

In the summer before my last year of high school, I landed my first job that involved answering a telephone. It was in the administrative offices of an iron ore mine in Northern Ontario. This was 48 years ago, in 1975. It was a time when there were … Read more

Summer School is Now in Session!

By Mary Jane Copps | June 23, 2023
woman using cell phone

Summer officially started this past Wednesday. There are very few places in the world as delightful as Atlantic Canada in the summer and I’m aiming to take full advantage. As I was thinking about the time I will spend with family and friends over the next two months, … Read more

Coaching Tips for Phone Anxiety

By Mary Jane Copps | January 29, 2023

Both making and taking phone calls require skills. Whether you are managing a team responsible for these tasks, or you’re coaching yourself, you need to be able to distinguish between phone phobia/fear and phone anxiety. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a phobia is a persistent, excessive, unrealistic fear … Read more

What’s In A Name? Everything!

By Mary Jane Copps | September 19, 2020
nametags

It’s happened to all of us. We’ve called somewhere, perhaps a customer service centre, or a government department, or a company we are thinking about hiring. A person answers, or we reach their voicemail, and their name is so muffled, said so quickly, that we have no idea … Read more

Your Job Search Super Power – Step 1: What Do You Want?

By Miriam Jobin | July 21, 2019
phoning about a job listing

“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”― Mark Twain As a child and adolescent, I must have had the same conversation with adults hundreds of times. You know the one: “What are you going to be when … Read more

Phone Stories: On The Dresser in the Foyer

By Mary Jane Copps | May 19, 2019

Sara Moginot is a customer service aficionado based in Halifax and a regular reader and contributor to this blog. As a child, our family had one black rotary phone in the foyer. To reach it, you walked up the stairs to the landing, which was a great open … Read more

In The Beginning: 5 Lessons From Recent Phone Calls

By Mary Jane Copps | June 24, 2018

Wednesday was a good day. For the first time in long while, I wasn’t rushing anywhere. I had time to focus on the three “P’s” – projects, paperwork and phone calls. And while the first two went fairly well (apparently there’s additional paperwork needed to go along with … Read more

Strategies for Difficult Conversations – Part V

By Mary Jane Copps | June 9, 2018

A few weekends ago two events collided and created this post. The first was a drive across the bridge early Saturday morning to speak at a conference. Listening to the radio, I noted that the host of the program was encouraging listeners to email him with a specific … Read more

Strategies for Difficult Conversations – Part IV

By Mary Jane Copps | June 3, 2018

For all of us, no matter where we’ve lived, where we’ve travelled or what languages we speak, a phone call with an unfamiliar accent can be a challenge. What I discovered, when I moved from the Northern Ontario mining town of my childhood to Toronto, is … accents … Read more

Strategies for Difficult Conversations – Part III

By Mary Jane Copps | May 27, 2018

Every phone call has the potential to startle us and when this happens the most effective words can be difficult to find. For Heather Clarkson of the Employment Solutions Society this occurs “when people don’t follow through with what they were supposed to do, when they do not behave professionally … Read more

Strategies for Difficult Conversations – Part I

By Mary Jane Copps | May 13, 2018

The past two weeks I’ve received numerous emails from followers and clients with questions about difficult conversations. From accents to constant talkers, and from disrespectful language to unfulfilled promises, some phone calls are definitely challenging. The next few posts will feature my favourite strategies. And I encourage you … Read more

Are You “Polite-ing” Yourself Out of Conversation?

By Mary Jane Copps | May 4, 2018

With some frequency, people ask me, “What is today’s phone etiquette?” I always hesitate to answer. Maybe the word ‘etiquette’ makes me stumble. It comes from the Old French estiquette, meaning label or ticket, and refers to a tradition from the 1700s of small cards with written instructions on … Read more

Have You Lost Your Curiosity?

By Mary Jane Copps | March 25, 2018

One of the items on my wish list has been to talk to high school students about phone skills, and my wish came true this past week. I met with seventeen Grade 10 students at South Colchester Academy. It occurred to me that these young people could teach … Read more

How Do You Say Goodbye?

By Mary Jane Copps | October 8, 2017

At a recent workshop, I was asked for advice on a challenge I’ve never encountered. While I certainly have some thoughts and suggestions, I’ve decided to share this challenge with you. Have you also experienced this challenge? Please share your ideas and feedback in the comments section below. … Read more

3 Ways You Can Impact Phone Communication

By Mary Jane Copps | June 10, 2017

Whether you want your sales team to be on the phone more often, or your clients to speak with you on the phone regularly, or your children to talk with their friends from time to time instead of texting, it all starts with you. Avoiding phone conversations is … Read more

Top 5 Ways to Create an Excellent ‘On Hold’ Experience

By Mary Jane Copps | April 16, 2017

The first time I put someone on hold was 40 years ago. It was a summer job in the offices of an iron ore mine in Northern Ontario and there were very specific guidelines I had to follow. The etiquette of how to put someone on hold has … Read more

A Telephone Truth

By Mary Jane Copps | February 18, 2017

It is true that every phone call is an interruption. This is not new; it has been the case since Alexander Graham Bell invented the technology. We are always doing something else when our phone rings and this makes the caller responsible for grabbing our attention and inspiring … Read more

Who’s On Your “Hot List”?

By Mary Jane Copps | September 24, 2016

Whether you are an entrepreneur building your business or a salesperson working towards making (or exceeding) budget, maintaining a “hot list” is essential to success. Simply put, a hot list contains the names of prospects that you believe are going to become customers, and it includes an estimate … Read more

The Language of Grief

By Mary Jane Copps | September 18, 2016

At a conference in mid-August I had the priviledge of attending a presentation by Amy Florian, CEO of Corgenius. A powerful, engaging speaker she provided everyone in the audience with a new and invaluable understanding of the language of death. I’m honoured that she has agreed to provide … Read more

Ready, Set, Crunch … The Numbers You Need for Year-End Success

By Mary Jane Copps | September 4, 2016

Wow … what a crazy August it’s been for The Phone Lady. I’ve had the honour of attending a conference in Iowa, working with very energetic sales and customer service teams in Toronto and travelling to all  four Atlantic provinces in four days to share phone communication skills with startups. … Read more

The Second Call

By Mary Jane Copps | August 21, 2016

  This week I’m honoured to introduce you to Dimitra Chronopoulos. She and I have connected through this blog, Twitter and LinkedIn and she has generously offered to share with us one of her own “phone stories”.   Are you reluctant to make a second phone call when … Read more

Show, Don’t Tell

By Mary Jane Copps | August 14, 2016

My mother’s name was Mercy Stone Goodwill. She was only thirty years old when she took sick, a boiling hot day, standing there in her back kitchen, making a Malvern pudding for her husband’s supper. A cookery book lay open on the table: “Take some slices of stale … Read more

Whose Time Are You Wasting?

By Mary Jane Copps | August 7, 2016

  This summer I’ve had the honour of working with smart, dedicated, enthusiastic sales teams. While each group was unique, they all shared a passion for their work, for learning and  for understanding  the “why” of today’s effective phone communication. This resulted in training sessions so full of ideas … Read more

Expectations: Yours or Theirs?

By Mary Jane Copps | July 24, 2016

Customer service often finds its way into conversations I have with family, friends and colleagues.  Whether it’s fabulous, good or deplorable, it ‘s something we all notice and we freely share our experiences with others. Good service means doing what the customer expects, and while this sounds simple, … Read more

The Power and Beauty of the Human Voice

By Mary Jane Copps | July 17, 2016

In 2003 a friend encouraged me to start a business centred on phone communication skills. I was skeptical.  He insisted. At this point, I’d been working with him part-time for 2 years, and he’d listened to me as I’d grown his software business from 11 clients to over 100 … Read more

Summer’s Ease = Opportunity

By Mary Jane Copps | July 2, 2016

It is tempting. I’m struggling with it a bit myself – a desire to slow down, go to the beach, read on the deck  – basically behave like I did in elementary school and September seemed a very distant possibility. But don’t give in to that temptation because you’ll miss … Read more

Mid-Year Logic for Year-End Success

By Mary Jane Copps | June 26, 2016

The summer I turned 18, I spent as much time as possible at my sister’s cabin, an isolated homestead deep in the woods of Northern Ontario. And I often brought along a friend to enjoy the canoeing, reading, swimming and hiking. One friend came prepared for the possibility … Read more

4 Steps to a Great Vacation Message

By Mary Jane Copps | June 11, 2016

It’s coming! Even though here on the Atlantic coast we’ve seen more fog and cloud than sun, we know that summer is on it’s way, bringing well-deserved vacation time and …voice mail vacation messages. In the excitement of summer vacation – or really any vacation – people become, … Read more

The Forgotten Follow Up – Part Four

By Mary Jane Copps | June 5, 2016

Whether each of us will admit it or not, we have all “dropped the ball” when it comes to following up. Even when we use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management system), it is still possible to click past a reminder, telling ourselves we’ll get back to it tomorrow, tomorrow, … Read more

Follow Up Builds Trust – Part Three

By Mary Jane Copps | May 27, 2016

In a recent workshop, a participant shared this challenge: Ten days earlier she had spoken to a prospect she has wanted to work with for years. It was a great conversation and the prospect did agree to take the next step  – move into the discovery stage of sharing … Read more

Bosses and employees are wrestling over whether voice calls have a place in the hybrid era. The Wall Street Journal recently spoke to Mary Jane. Find out more here.
Overwhelmed by alerts? Avoid calling people? Here's what phone anxiety looks like — and why it happens.
CBC Radio
Maritime Noon with Bob Murphy - On the phone-in: Mary Jane Copps has advice on making phone calls to people who are phone-averse. Listen in >
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.