Is Your Phone Manner Holding Back Your Career?
Telephone use is essential for 21st century living and that includes your career. In business, how employees come across on the phone has an outsized impact on sales, client retention, brain storming, problem solving, conflict resolution, managerial decision-making, and myriad other issues affecting a company’s success. On a personal level, your phone manner can determine whether you move up the corporate ladder or languish at your current position.
And yet, few people ever ask the tough question, “What is the impression I create over the phone?” Instead, we take for granted that, as long as the technology holds, we have no issues with telephone communication. But, too often, what we don’t know can hurt us.
How certain are you about the following issues:
- Do I sound engaged with the caller?
- Do I sound energized about the topic of discussion?
- Is my voice pleasant to listen to?
- Is my volume at a proper and consistent level?
- Is my speech clear?
- Do I speak at a moderate pace, not too fast and not too slow?
- Is my attitude positive, or am I coming across “with a tone”?
It’s very hard to know, because we don’t hear ourselves the way others hear us, and when we are on the phone, we are deprived of the visual clues that can help us communicate more effectively in person. We don’t see the caller, so we don’t know if they’re getting impatient, feeling frustrated, feeling put off, etc. until emotion creeps into their voice, and by that time it can be too late. If the person we’re talking to is highly professional, we may never even know that they are put off by our phone manner. We’ll simply find out later that they took their business elsewhere.
If you use the phone at work, you should review this list of phone manner tips that could immediately improve some existing issues:
- Plan your call — Every business communication should have a short list of objectives you wish to accomplish. Jot down the major points you want to cover, consider the amount of time you’ll need to spend on each and create a framework for the call.
- Open the relevant files — Nothing kills the energy of a call like dead air as one party searches for pertinent information. Anticipate the files you might need and open them up on your desk or your computer screen.
- Remove distractions — It’s hard to convey single-minded attention to a caller’s concerns when you’re toying with a fidget spinner or shopping for a new car. Resist the temptation to multitask. True, the caller can’t see what you’re doing, but he or she can probably sense your mind drifting away.
- Get comfortable — If you are physically uncomfortable at your workspace, tension will creep into your voice. Adjust your chair. Wear a comfortable headset that allows you to use your hands freely. If you start feeling constrained, stand up and stretch.
- Have a drink handy — When your mouth or throat gets dry, your vocal quality will suffer. It helps to have glass of water or a mug of coffee within reach.
Of course, when trying to improve your phone manner, there is no substitute for direct feedback. A Wellbeing Coach can instruct you on the finer points where you might need work, such as:
- Vocal quality — Some people are gifted with naturally mellifluous and resonant voices. The rest of us have to work at improving our timbre. If your voice is a tad nasal or guttural, too high or too airy, a vocal coach can help bring out your hidden James Earl Jones.
- Speech patterns — We all know it’s tedious when someone uh, uh, uhs their way through a conversation, but do we notice such problems with our own speech? Have you taken an inventory of how often you employ “like,” “so,” “awesome,” “actually,” “literally,” “totally,” and other overused words?
- Accent reduction — Regionalisms are charming. But if callers from outside your area code have difficulty comprehending what you say, you could benefit from more standard inflections.
- Emotional triggers — Let’s face it, we all have pet peeves and we all run into clients, coworkers and supervisors who seem to have bought out the store. Maintaining composure and keeping the call productive when a caller is getting under your skin is a special challenge.
- Humor — A bit of levity can build rapport and make a call much more productive. But not every attempt at humor is safe for the workplace or for every client or coworker. Knowing when to display your wit is an art which needs to be refined.
Improving your phone manner takes practice, and it’s best to get that practice away from the job when the stakes are not so high. A Wellbeing Coach can provide the instruction, feedback, and encouragement you need to up your game in this vitally important business skill.
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All information contained on this website are for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to be taken as medical or other health advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified medical professional. IN THE CASE OF A MEDICAL EMERGENCY OR SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, IMMEDIATELY CALL 911.
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