It used to be the “norm” that people placed a great deal of emphasis on professional etiquette in offices and boardrooms around the world. Society as a whole has gone slack in some of these areas, leaving the next generation searching for clues to the fine art of effective communication. All is not lost to time, however, as a rising number of sales and business pros look to sources like Dale Carnegie of Birmingham to guide them in business communication skills.
One of the most important communication skills one can have in any career is that of excellent telephone etiquette. To be able to speak professionally and courteously is a highly sought after skill, often passed down from mentors in the workplace. Anyone can learn to become a better communicator, but it takes a special skill to handle phone calls well. This is especially true in a mobile communication driven world we are in today.
Here are some steadfast rules of etiquette that apply to all forms of telephone communication, to help you get on the right track.
- Answer on the second ring. Sure, there is voicemail today, but why leave people having to talk to a machine all the time? If you do anything better this year in terms of your phone skills, take the time to answer as many calls as possible on the second ring. This speaks volumes to clients and lets them know how important they are to you.
- Talk with a “smile”. Experts advise to always remember to smile while you are speaking on the phone. And for good reason. First, your mood and attitude improves as soon as you smile, making each conversation more enjoyable. Second, your voice actually changes in a positive way, and the other person can hear this on the phone line.
- Speak clearly. When you speak on the phone, do you often get asked to repeat yourself? This is a sign that you are not speaking clearly enough. Take a moment to record the next phone call and then listen to yourself speak. Then work on actually annunciating your words better, reducing the “ums”, and you’ll have more success on the phone.
- Learn to listen. A phone conversation works better if you take the time to be an active listener. Let the other person do the talking, then respond by asking for more clarification or giving a brief summary of what was said. This allows you to let the person on the other end know you are taking him or her seriously, and want to get all the right information.
- Check voicemails and respond. Voicemail was only designed to be used when you cannot be at your office line. However, it’s not for abusing callers by avoiding them. Make sure to check voicemails at the beginning, middle and near the last hour of each workday – then return calls on the same day whenever possible.
If you want to become a better communicator and get a positive response when dealing with people, start by getting better with your telephone skills to see a world of difference. Consider a Dale Carnegie course on interpersonal communication skills today.