Can your smile be heard?

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First impressions are just as critical when on the telephone as when meeting a person face to face. Even in the current climate of electronic communication it is still estimated that 70% of business is conducted over the telephone. Telephone etiquette is critical as prospects are deciding whether to do business with you and customers are deciding how helpful and competent you are.

I get particularly irritated with the inbound sales calls at home. I had one the other day from a bank selling a credit card. The man sounding bored at the other end asked for my husband. When I explained he was not available I was asked if I was the little lady of the house. He then had the temerity to ask me how was I today? As if he had any interest, he was just following the script. At this point I ended the conversation deciding never ever to use this particular bank. I am sure we all have similar examples or have been irritated by the endless musak while being held in a queue with regular voice mail interjectionswe really care about your call. Do they really?

So the best way to get the most from any telephone call is:
Be pleasant and smile
Be sincere
Focus on the listener.

A pleasant greeting is essential to a successful call because it sets the stage emotionally. Listeners will often mirror the emotional states of speakers. So if we answer the call gruffly it is likely the caller will become gruff, and, conversely if we answer the call pleasantly the caller is also likely to be and we all know which one we would rather be speaking to. It is much harder to be irritated with someone who is helpful and pleasant than someone giving you the standard answers in a bored monotone.

One of the easiest ways to attain a pleasant emotional state is to use body language. You can change your state by changing your body language. If we carry ourselves with slumped shoulders frowning face, averted eyes we will probably feel a bit low. If we smile, breathe deeply, sit or stand upright and put our shoulders back and look ahead we will probably feel good. Avoid the saggy shoulder syndrome and let your smile be heard.

I am against scripted greetings and calls. They sound so insincere and the person on the other end switches off very quickly. By all means have an outline process to follow but if you are able to adapt it to you personally it will have far greater impact and will be and sound genuine. Always state your name when answering a call or calling someone else. Stating your name implies authority and that you are accountable.

Finally always focus on the person on the other end of the telephone. Turn away from the computer and the distractions of e-mails or that important document that you are working on. If your attention is split it will come across in the call and could impact on your pleasantness or your sincerity.

Telephones are a powerful part of conducting businesslet your smile be heard.

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