Are You Telephone Savvy

February 18, 2021

© Carole Kanchier, PhD


Telephone Skills Key to Success

Telephone Communication Skills Crucial for Career Success

The telephone is the most common business tool and its proper use is essential for career advancement. 

Talking with a potential client, customer or colleague on the phone can sometimes be challenging. Without seeing an individual’s face, messages can become muddled and meanings misinterpreted.

Are you telephone savvy?

When you make calls do you:

1. State your message briefly and clearly?

2. Leave your name, organization and phone number, repeating these twice, slowly and clearly?

3. Give the full name of the person for whom you’re leaving the message?

4. State the date and time of the call?

5. State whether you’ll call back or you’d like the other person to call?

7. Ask for a return call at a time you’ll be available?

When you receive calls, do you:

8. Identify yourself?

9. Use courtesies such as “Please hold while I complete another call.”

10. Offer to take messages when you’re answering for someone?

11. Repeat the caller’s name and number to make sure they’re correct?

12. Speak in a professional manner? 

13. Does your answering machine have a pleasant, professional and courteous message? Leave a good impression?

Scoring: One point for each yes. The higher your score, the more positive telephone skills you possess. A score of 9 or less suggests you should enhance your skills.

Review telephone basics

1. Knowledge: Before you make a call have the required information.

2. Goals: Know what you want to accomplish.

3. Attitude: Make the person feel you’re interested in him and the message.

– Make a great first impression. Show the caller you’re helpful, confident and competent. If a potential employer’s first contact is over the phone, she gets cues from your voice. What kind of impression are you giving?

Influence your listener’s reactions by controlling the pace, pitch, inflection and tone of your voice.  Strive for an energy level that matches your normal conversation. A soft voice suggests shyness or uncertainty; a loud voice implies anger or worry. Be alert to your caller’s needs. If he’s having trouble hearing, speak louder, more slowly.

Speak briskly but pronounce words clearly. When you talk too fast, you sound hurried or excited and are difficult to understand; when you too speak slowly, you sound tired, lazy or uninterested.

Inflection adds special meaning to your message. If, for example, you say, “John needs help with his resume this afternoon,” you’re suggesting John needs help. If you say, “John needs help with his resume — this afternoon, —  your indicating he needs help this afternoon.

Different tones of voice can make us feel differently — happy, angry, hurt, etc. Keep your tone attentive, interested and friendly. Smiling adds a pleasant tone to your voice.

– Be courteous, respectful. People are turned off by careless or rude remarks. Always say hello and identify yourself. Ask how you can help. Use courtesy words, “Thank you for waiting.”  If you need to put the caller on hold, ask, and wait for an answer. If you need to phone back, indicate when you’ll call.

End the call positively, for example, “Thanks for calling.”  Let the caller hang up first. This gives him control of the ending as well as an opportunity to ask further questions. Don’t eat, drink, or chew gum.

– Leave clear, concise messages. State your name and phone number. Repeat these twice. Give the name of the person you’re calling and date and time you called. If the person doesn’t return your call, phone again a few days later. For other message skills, review the telephone savvy questions.

 If an employer calls, and you’re not prepared for the session, ask the employer if you can return the call, or if he can call back at a mutually convenient time. This gives you time to prepare.

Keep the forgoing in mind when you call or receive phone calls. Your confidence and career advancement will improve as you hone your phone skills. Next week part 2 of telephone skills will be posted.

Additional tips for strengthening telephone and other job skills are discussed in award winning, Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life:    

Visit Carole Kanchier’s blog for more tips to enhance personal and professional growth.