It was a typical weekday morning – I was rushing to get out the door. I’m not sure why, but no matter how much I plan ahead, I always find myself rushing in the morning. Then our home phone – a landline – rang at 8:14 am. That’s a very unusual time for someone to call and I immediately began creating visions of who might be ill or need help in some way.
So I grabbed the phone quickly and said “Hello” in a voice filled with both rush and concern. Reacting to the sound of my voice, the young woman on the other end spoke very quickly, and I wasn’t able to understand her name, the company name or what she was calling about. Before I could ask her to repeat herself, she said – in an assertive manner – “And are you Mary Jane?”
At this point I’m thinking “What’s this about?”. It was too early for an aggressive sales call, but it was from someone I didn’t know, who didn’t know me and who hadn’t clearly identified themselves. My voice and my attitude went from rushed and concerned to defensive and skeptical.
And once someone is defensive and skeptical, building relationship becomes a difficult task.
We have to remember that every phone call is an interrruption. No one is sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. To create effective communication from the outset, follow these guidelines:
* Don’t rush to answer the phone. Use the first ring to stop what you are doing and give your full attention to the caller.
* Smile – the muscles you use will change the sound of your voice.
* Visualize they are in front of you, that you are extending your hand in greeting.
* Enunciate your name clearly and slowly – this is the handshake.
* Make sure you get their name. Don’t hesitate to have it repeated or even spelled out.
* Everyone’s name is important to them. When you use someone’s name you are building relationship and trust.
And my morning phone call? Well, the young woman and I stumbled through a very awkward beginning before I “heard” the reason for her call (she was organizing the delivery of the second printing of The Phone Book). Knowing this changed the sound of my voice, which allowed her to relax and slow down, and led us to a very nice conversation. But it could easily have remained curt and unfriendly. Know that the majority of the time, the outcome of your phone calls is dictated by how you begin.
Enjoy you phone work everyone!