Telephone Faux Pas and
How to Avoid Them

Happy Caller

As we progress into the 21st century, we enjoy the use of amazing technology tools.  Even with the advances made, there are times when we make use of "old" technology, specifically the telephone. 

Whether via a land line, conference device, mobile, or smart phone, voice communication is still a necessity in our modern world.  But as with any form of communication, if it doesn't come through clearly, information is misunderstood - or not understood at all.

Common Telephone Blunders

The most common telephone communication blunders are:

  • Not speaking loudly enough.
  • Not articulating your words because you're talking too fast and words run together.
  • Forgetting to say hello and bouncing into conversation about why you are calling.
  • Not having a clear purpose for your call, or notes to keep the conversation on track.

These four mistakes are pretty easily corrected when you become mindful of them.  Practice the opposite of each one every time you reach for your phone.

  • Find the perfect volume for your voice and use it.
  • Practice articulation by finding a slower, yet comfortable, pace of speaking.
  • Consciously work in an introductory phase for each phone conversation you have.  "Hello.  How are you today?  How may I help you?"  or "Do you have a moment to speak with me?"
  • Before you make a call, understand why you are calling and know how you will lead the conversation.  Make notes to keep in front of you if needed.

Is It a Faux Pas, or Just Bad Manners?

These days, our phones go where we do.  It's nearly impossible to go anywhere without hearing or seeing one.

This is why it's more important than ever to know the appropriate time, place, and method of using a phone. 

Many of us become so wrapped up in staying in touch and making ourselves available that we forget this may inconvenience other people around us.

For example:

  • Your phone rings during a church service, a business meeting, a theater performance, etc.
  • You answer a call while in a public restroom.
  • A prospective client phones you on your mobile phone, which you've listed it as your main line, and you only answer with "Hello."
  • You are on the phone while checking out at the grocery, slowing down the check out process and causing glares from customers behind you.  But you don't notice - because you are on the phone.
  • You take a call while out with your family who just want to spend a little time with you.
  • You're out shopping and decide that is a good time to make an appointment with your doctor.  Now everyone in the store knows what issues you are experiencing.

Social blunders are one thing.  We've all made them.  But each of the above examples have little chance of being excused as a simple blunder.  They are actually quite rude and yet, you likely witness at least one occurring every day.

Proper Use is a Good Thing!

The telephone is a tool for good communication.  Used properly, it conveys information and sentiments with ease.  Used improperly, it yields annoyance, misunderstandings, privacy violations, and possibly danger.

Remember these guidelines to keep your telephone experiences proper - and positive:

  • Your tone of voice and mode of answering a call are important in making a positive impression.
  • Be in or get to a place where you can focus on the caller and the conversation.
  • Give each person you engage by phone your full attention. 
  • Do one thing at a time with your device - text, message, email, and talk at different times.
  • Be polite!  Avoid asking, "Who are you?"  There are nicer way to communicate that you want to know who is calling.
  • Know where you are!  If you are in a location or environment that is unfamiliar, put your phone away.
  • Never have personal conversations in public.  You never know who is listening.
  • When spending time with others, put your phone away and focus on them.
  • Keep your voice mail messages brief and on-point.
  • Smile when you dial!

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