Things move fast. Not so long ago, people complained that conversation was a lost art. Now, even telephone conversations are going the way of the dodo. So much communication takes place through other channels – text, email, social media – that proper phone manner is getting rarer and rarer. Make sure you have the proper etiquette to make it a welcoming conversation.
But there’s plenty to know, and plenty to learn if you haven’t mastered it. Telephone etiquette isn’t dead yet, and it’s important to signal to whoever’s on the other end of the line that you’re showing them respect and attention. Otherwise, nobody gets what they want in the end – and at Ideator, we want everybody to go home happy.
Here are some important things to remember in all phone conversations.
- Introduce yourself
Sure, most people have call display – but it’s only polite to make it clear to them who they’re speaking to. We’re used to visual cues in every other medium, and it can put us off-balance when we haven’t confirmed identities. Get it out of the way so they can feel comfortable.
- Speak clearly
It’s easier to pay close attention to someone when they’re in front of you, and harder to focus on a disembodied voice. On top of that, it isn’t unusual for phone calls to have static or poor sound quality. In recognition of this, enunciate more carefully than you usually do. Don’t speak too quickly, and make sure you’re making yourself understood. It can be all too easy to lose their interest if you’re mumbling.
- Be concise
In a face-to-face conversation, you can be forgiven for rambling a little, or just enjoying each other’s company without speaking. Phone calls are different. It’s a bit of an inconvenience for people to abandon whatever else they were doing and talk into a box for a while. It’s only common courtesy to value the time they’re giving you and say what you need to say as concisely as possible. Make your plans on the phone; get looser when you’ve met up.
- Pause when you need to
Without visual cues that can signal when someone would like to cut in, you need to leave them an opportunity to do so. Don’t be a wall of sound; leave them time to take over the conversation. It’s not a one-way thing. Give them an opportunity to respond in real time. That’s probably why you bothered calling in the first place.
- Don’t interrupt
Let them have the opportunity to say their piece before trying to cut in with yours. Remember: pauses have to be a bit longer on the phone than they are in face-to-face conversation. Wait for them to give you one before adding your two cents.
- Get to the point
Phone calls are action-oriented, and it’s helpful to everyone if you state your intentions up front. You’re calling them – or they’re calling you – because someone wants something happen right away. Otherwise, they’d have chosen an email or a text. So don’t waste their time: tell them why you’re calling right away.