One of the most powerful tools of communication in today’s world is the PHONE; landline phone as well as the cell phone (also known all over the world as the hand phone). Yet many of us wouldn’t have given too much thinking on how to use this Phone effectively. Here are a few suggestions that have brilliantly worked for me. They have been drawn from personal experiences as well as observations. These are my telephone commandments!
- I will be prepared, know what is the purpose of the call, and always have a paper and a writing instrument ready for action. Most people are busy or at least they would like to think so. When we keep them guessing why we have called, it irritates them. If that is the intention of the call, then, fair enough! I have succeeded.But it is never so. People, like others to come straight to the point. They admire people who do not beat around the bush. Hence I am always prepared. If I am making a presentation or reporting, I keep the points ready. Not in my memory but on paper! This prevents mistakes of the memory and also ensures fluency of communication. It also prevents double work and makes me efficient. Having a pen and paper makes me ready to note down vital details that I might otherwise forget and later on regret. It is very unprofessional to make someone wait on the line as I search for either a pen or paper. It must be disgusting for them to hear me screaming at someone else to hurry and search because the pen or paper I required is not handy.
- How much time do I have? Is it a good time to talk? These are two wonderful questions that I invariably ask people and makes them brilliantly co-operative. These questions have sometimes made me the ‘priority’ over other pressing matters. These questions also shows I respect the priorities, time and space of other people. The fact is, it should be like this only! When they are genuinely busy they tell me so and I call back later. Anyways otherwise I would not have been able to get my point across.
- I do not speak too fast or too slow. I speak at a pace where the other person is able to understand me and write down what they should be writing down. I have been told all the ten digits of the cell phone at a single breath and till date I have never been able to get all the ten digits in proper sequence even once. Then I have to make them repeat it. Sometimes, once again all the ten digits come. Then I have to request them again and it goes on for a few times. At the end of it all, I am a little irritated and the person show-offing their memory also did not have a good time. What is the point? If numbers are being exchanged I never say more than three digits at a time. Practice this if you are interested in getting work done fast. If show offing is the intention you may say all the digits. I am extremely sorry but the person at the other end of the phone is not impressed at all. In fact the reverse might happen.
- Pause: I ensure I pause as I speak to find out whether the other person is listening or are they absent-mindedly involved. Through the grunt and hmm, ah ha and other sounds I hear from them when I pause, I am also able to understand whether I am making any sense to them or are they swimming in the sea of confusion. I then make the necessary adjustments.
- I SMILE as I speak: Wow! It is indeed very exciting to know that people are able to see the smile even across the telephone line. It is wonderful to talk to people who are smiling. Isn’t it?
- I use my (full) name and my organization’s full name in the beginning of your conversation and end the conversation by wishing them: Introducing myself in the beginning prepares the mind of the listener. This prevents confusion that might arise later on. I never presume or expect ‘my voice’ to be recognizable in all circumstances by all people all the time. Their mind might be preoccupied; the phone lines might be bad etc.Please, please, please end with a wonderful wish. If the objective of the call is over please do not hang down or bang down the phone. They do not feel important but used in the process. This will make work and co-operation difficult in the future. This is also indecent. Do wish them as you end the call.
- I will be genuinely interested in the conversation: This means I will be involved in the conversation. I should not be busy in some other work as I talk. Chances are high they will sense it. They feel neglected in the process. No one likes it this way. I want their best and not their worst, right? Hence I better be involved and interested in the conversation as it is happening.
What is even more important is that when face-to-face conversation is on, research says that 55% of communication happens thru non-verbal means and only 45% is verbal communication. This includes my expressions, my tone, my pauses and my body language. But in telephonic conversations only 15% is non-verbal and close to 85% communication happens through verbal communication. If I am not alert and involved in the conversation neither will I be able to listen totally not will I be able to talk properly. I will miss subtle hints that only intensely interested listening can reveal to me. I will also miss an opportunity to create an impact that interested communication only can create. Hence the effectiveness of the call will be abysmally low.
These few steps have helped me tremendously in my telephone calls. It should be of use to you too. It is necessary to train people in our organization in these steps for effective use of the telephone. If you can train them and they use these steps, the results will make you feel good about yourself and you will smile. Three cheers!!!