Calling You Out

Column: Takin’ Care of Business
by Scott L. Clark


No matter what profession you are in, chances are that you spend a good amount of time on the phone. Even if we spend the rest of our day being 100% professional in the office, that persona can be shot down by making simple mistakes on the phone. Since you don’t have the luxury of looking at the other person in the eye while talking to them, it’s important to be overly professional with your voice and actions while on the telephone. Here are a few “do’s” and “don’t’s” when it comes to talking on the phone live as well as leaving voice mail messages.

1. Speak slowly and clearly – Although this may seem like a no-brainer, I can’t tell you how many voice mails I’ve had to play through over and over in order to understand what the caller was trying to say. When talking on the phone, it goes without saying that you are trying to communicate something. If you speak too quickly or don’t enunciate your words, the person on the other end of the line might not get that message the first time, or even at all.

2. Less is more – It’s important to remember to be respectful of the other person’s time, especially since some people really don’t like being on the phone for long periods of time. When talking on the phone professionally, keep it short and to the point. The person on the other end is probably just as busy as you, and an extended phone conversation can be big distraction. Also, be succinct when leaving voice mail messages. Not only can a 2-3 minute message be annoying, but also a shorter message may leave an element of mystery to the recipient, thus making them want to call you back. This is especially important when making sales calls. If you give away all of your information off the bat, the person has no incentive to call you back and have said “no” before you have a chance to try to get a “yes”.

3. Say who you are FIRST – Unless they have your name saved in their cell phone, the person you are calling might not have any clue who you are. Common courtesy demands that you tell them who you are before beginning the conversation. You wouldn’t start a conversation with a perfect stranger without introducing yourself, would you? The same applies with the phone.

4. Repeat your phone number – When leaving a voice message where you want the other person to call you back, it’s obviously important that they have your number. Saying your number a second time ensures that it was written down correctly and saves having to re-listen to the message a second time if it wasn’t written down quickly enough.

5. Avoid uneccesary noises – It’s very easy to fall into the trap of making noises with your mouth while searching for a while or waiting for your computer to catch up. Something as simple as clicking your tongue or breathing loudly comes across much louder on the phone than it does in person and can be very annoying to the person on the other line. It sounds very unprofessional and can reflect on you negatively.

So the next time you’re on the phone, remember these tips. Little things can go a long way on the phone. I’m sure there are plenty of others. Please feel free to share any tips of your own. What things annoy you when you’re on the phone that we as young professionals should avoid?


~ by Scott L. Clark on April 4, 2011.

5 Responses to “Calling You Out”

  1. One thing to stress that you hit upon on already, but when stating your phone number, say it slowly. There is nothing more annoying than having to repeatedly rewind to catch the whirlwind phone number. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and often makes me want to take my sweet time calling you back because you’ve annoyed me already.

    Great job, Scott.

  2. I think you missed one big rule– return calls promptly. I try to return calls around 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM each day. I’ve had businesses return calls two weeks after I’ve left messages and after I’ve made my purchase elsewhere.

  3. Great post, Scott!! My biggest annoyance when people call me is when they give me absolutely no clue what they want to talk about. Nothing will irk me more or make me want to call you back less than a message that says “Hey Caitlin, it’s so and so, give me a call.” Drives me batty!! When I’m calling a person back, I want to make sure I’m prepared. Do you want information on IGNITE? Corporate Partnership? My opinion on some community matter? I’m going to prepare different for each one of those phone calls. To make sure the call uses both of our time efficiently, I want to make sure I’m prepared with the right information rather than figure out what you want only to have to call you back later with more information because I wasn’t prepared.

  4. I have been in the telemarketing and counseling business my whole life. That means 90% of my time is spent on the phone. I wish this post could be sent to all of my clients. It is the most annoying thing when someone makes that clicking noise when they are thinking and voicemails are sometimes so ridiculous to hear that I can’t even return some of them. I mean it is common sense to say who you are, at least you would think it is common sense. So many people never tell me who they are and rattle off their information so quickly I can’t even tell what they said. Good post Scott!

  5. @Eric: Thanks for finding one that I forgot! I totally had that one in mind when I originally thought to write this post, but I neglected to write it down. My rule is at the very least call back within 24 hours. Your rule of twice a day is far better, and I highly recommend it as well. Great input.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s