A Toolbox for Your Phone Call: Communicating Effectively

I don’t know if it’s because of the rise of social media and texting or if it’s because of the level of anxiety that has been shown to exist in our generation, but I realize every day how afraid people are of talking on the phone. I completely understand this fear, though; it’s one that I had growing up, and no matter how much my parents forced me to talk on the phone, I couldn’t get over my fear. However, once I started working at the university bookstore, my boss decided that she wanted me to call publishers and order the textbooks for the classes each semester. This semester marks the third semester that I have made, no exaggeration, hundreds of professional phone calls for the bookstore. Here are some of my best tips to hopefully diffuse some of the anxiety from talking on the phone:

 

  1. As soon as the person on the other end says, “Hello?”, greet them, introduce yourself, and state your purpose. When I do phone calls for the bookstore, when customer service picks up, I say, “Hello! My name is Zoe and I’m calling from the Denison University Bookstore to place an order.” This allows you to avoid the confusion, awkward pauses, and random mumbling over each other that is inevitable if you don’t lead with an introduction.

 

  1. Always get the other person’s name, even if you have to ask them for it multiple times. Then, at the end of the phone call, say something along the lines of, “Thank you so much for your help, _________! I really appreciate it.” This will leave a lasting good impression on the person you spoke with.

 

  1. Be attentive. Don’t allow your voice to convey your boredom, even if you’re feeling it. The person on the other end can always tell if you are, every single time.

 

  1. Don’t be rude! This seems like a given, but how some people still don’t get it, I’ll never understand. This rule especially applies if you are calling a customer service hotline or help center; these people’s jobs are very difficult, so why make it harder when you could make it just a little bit easier? Plus, if you’re pleasant and polite, they’re typically more inclined to help you get what you called for.

 

  1. Keeping the conversation alive is crucial. This can include small talk about the weather, their day, and asking questions. I try not to let silences grow because then it’s more awkward to change the subject.

 

Hopefully these basic tips will help out some of the people who feel anxious about talking on the phone! It may still feel uncomfortable and awkward at first, but using these tips will allow you to fake it ‘til you make it! Happy talking!