Learning to use the telephone more effectively

Telephone conversations at work: voice and tone are more important than words. Learn how to communicate more effectively using the telephone.

You make telephone calls every day: you pick up the receiver, dial the number and talk. And your conversation partner cannot see you, and so you talk while you tidy up your office or peel your apple. Your conversation partner won’t notice a thing, or will he? Mistake! According to telephone trainers what our conversation partner thinks about us depends, in particular, on non-verbal communication.

Starting well is half the challenge

The start of a telephone conversation is extremely important because a positive first impression sets the correct tone. Your greeting must be short and fluent. The person telephoning you must quickly be given the opportunity to say something. Call your conversation partner by name, as this creates a bond. Also show that his/her problems are important for you. This is the basis for a good atmosphere and consequently a successful conversation – and this is not just over the telephone.

Listen to what the other person has to say

Listen properly and actively to the other person. Allow him/her to finish speaking and take notes if there are questions. Indicate that you really want to help by saying that you will personally make sure that the problem is resolved. Avoid words such as ‘perhaps’ and ‘probably’, as you want to come over as being more credible.

Your most important instrument – your voice

Your voice is extremely important, as it reflects your emotions. To use the correct tone, you can, for example, talk as you would with somebody sitting opposite you. Sit up straight in your seat and smile. Gestures can also help you – even if the other person at the other end of the line cannot see them.

Before you call somebody, you must be quite clear in your own mind what you want to achieve. Why are you telephoning this person? Do you want to make an agreement or negotiate something? What do you want to make known during the conversation? Make a list to avoid forgetting anything (names, deadlines, statistics).

Let us give you another 10 golden tips for a successful telephone conversation

  1. If you are called, allow the phone to ring for the first two or three times before answering.
  2. Never say that you are unable to help somebody. You can always help, even if it is by referring the person to the right colleague.
  3. Propose solutions if there is a problem (“we don’t have any large packages, but we can offer you two small ones”).
  4. Do not allow your personal opinion about somebody to become evident. Do not, for example, say: ‘Rather regrettably my colleague is not in the office today.’
  5. If possible, find a quiet location from where to telephone and close any windows and doors.
  6. Talk in a positive manner.
  7. Even if the other person has a different approach to using the telephone, it is important to be friendly.
  8. Have a pen and paper at the ready to take notes if it is necessary.
  9. At the end of the conversation summarise again what has been said and ask your conversation partner if everything is clear.
  10. Thank your conversation partner at the end of the conversation.

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