Tips to use telephone as an effective communication tool
Gimmie the lina pleeze!
That was what a lady on our party line used to say when she wanted the use of the telephone line to call one of her relatives. Most of you wouldn't know what a party line was but back in the day you used to share telephone lines in a neghbourhood because the technology hadn't advanced yet. Could you imagine sharing the Internet that way. Not very likely.
So what does that have to do with telephone communication? Well, even though she was speaking in broken English with an Italian accent, her message was loud and clear—she wanted you to hang up so she could make her call. She wasn't into sharing much because she would repeat it several times and we found that the best procedure was to ignore her and she would give up to try again later.
The telephone can be a very useful communication tool if it is handled properly so here are some of my suggestions. Some of them are ridiculously obvious but they are important.
- Answer with hello to start. If you are using the telephone in a business environment—Hello, [your name here, first and last name] speaking. It doesn't need to go on forever with the how may I help you or we are glad you called stuff. That isn't always taken as an honest response.
- Speak clearly. I never understand telemarketing but a lot of them cannot speak clearly enough for you to figure out what junk they are trying to sell, so it makes it even easier to just hang up.
- Paint a picture with your words. It's like writing only with your voice. Describe what you are trying to communicate to the other person by using lots of descriptive adjectives. The telephone you have in your hand is not just grey but its charcoal grey or slate grey or smaller than a wallet but bigger than a credit card. Then we know you aren't using my old cellphone then.
- Be pleasant and helpful. Your voice tone needs to reflect this and it can't be seen as pushy or forceful because most people will just hang up.
- Be genuine in your voice presentation. How many people have you talked to that sound like they are trying to sell you a left handed refrigerator door thing-e-me-bob and their voice reflects the trip to cleaners?
- Make your answering machine message sound like you are actually apologetic for not being there to answer the call and be upbeat in your response.
- To keep a telephone conversation going, you need to give the other person a good reason to continue so give them a good reason to continue! Ask them a question that requires that they answer it with more than just yes or no. An example would be "How could we improve our service to you in a way that would make you happier?" Salespeople will recognize these as an open probe and closed probe, where the closed version is an either/or choice.
- Small talk is just clutter so it should be avoided. It can be fun but it does consume time and you may be talking long distance so keeping it brief and to the point is pretty useful.
- If you promise someone that you will get back to them, then get back to them when you promised, even if it is to say that the proper answer is taking more time and explain the reason why.
- It doesn't hurt to say "Have a nice day" at the end of your conversation because no matter what the conversation was about, you are parting company on a happy note.
- And lastly, just put yourself in the shoes of the person on the other end of the line and just pause long enough to say to yourself "How would I like someone to treat me when I call?". The telephone is just a tool to talk to other people who aren't in the same room as you are so just talk to them as if you were sitting in a coffee shop and they are at the same table.
Using the telephone as an effective communication tool isn't rocket science. Communication requires that one speaks and one listens. Effective communication usually requires that you listen more than you speak. It's the 2 ears - 1 mouth thing all over again.
Maybe this was helpful and maybe it wasn't but you have a nice day.
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