We are not always conscious of it, but our voices almost always give us away in terms of our state of mind and emotions. If you are feeling down, your voice will sound low and tired; if you are feeling happy, your voice will be bright and ebullient. At work, you have to sound bright and confident so make sure that your voice projects that attitude.
One way of doing that is to sit up or even stand when you are talking. Do not slouch, as that will have an effect on your vocal chords. In fact, I usually tell candidates to smile when they are talking, since that is reflected in their voices and the person at the other end gains the impression of speaking to someone cheerful.
If the person at the other end sounds abrupt, aloof or even rude do not be put off by that. You have to maintain your attitude of politeness and sound alert and interested. More often than not, most people respond to the voice they hear at the other end. Your interest and enthusiasm will spark off an equal reaction from your telephone partner.
Some telephone conversations are easy and some are difficult – and this has a lot to do with the subject of discussion and the person to whom you are talking. It is easy to have a conversation with some people and with some others, it is difficult to progress beyond a sentence or two.
If you anticipate that your call is going to be difficult, for whatever reason, then you need to prepare for it. Work out beforehand what you are going to say, how to say it and try to anticipate the other person’s reactions and attitude. If it is a sales call about a service or product, you need to be prepared with a lot of information about what you are selling. Do not leave things to chance; do not say things like ‘if you allow me to meet you in person, I will explain this to you’. It is better to be prepared and give the person the information they want, then and there.
I usually advise people to jot down the main points, of the topic they wish to discuss, on a piece of paper. This helps you sound confident and you can be prompt while answering questions, instead of fumbling around for words.
Earlier I had touched on the need for some preliminaries before starting a telephone conversation. You need to be careful that you do not spend too much time on these preliminaries. Most people are busy and so you need to get to the point immediately after you have introduced yourself and ascertained that the other person is free to take your call.
You need to take care that you can make your point or attempt to convince the other person without raising your voice. Raising your voice puts the others person on the defensive and very soon you will find yourself arguing. A good method to avoid this scenario is to make a deliberate attempt to drop the pitch of your voice at the end of every sentence. This makes you sound more confident and definite.
It is always a good policy to intimate someone in advance that you plan to phone them at a particular time and the subject of your talk. It gives them time to prepare as well as to schedule things so that they have the time to devote to your call.
When on the phone speak slowly and clearly. If you are making the call at the end of a tiring day, make the effort to articulate with more energy. Talk on the phone as if he or she is in the room with you – making the appropriate hand gestures and facial expressions.
As I have stressed before do not sound rude or unfriendly whatever the provocation. If the person at the other end persists in being rude, end the conversation saying that you will call back at a later time, if and when convenient.
Cutting short a telephone conversation with a long-winded person is difficult, especially if you do not want to sound impolite or discourteous. There are several time-tested ways of ending a call: “It was nice talking to you, but I do not want to take too much of your time”, or “This is an interesting conversation but I have another appointment to go to right away”. To too clinging callers you can say that the boss is demanding your attention right now or that you have another call.
If your call goes to an answering machine speak clearly, giving your name, number, the reason for your call and when you can be reached. You may also say that you intend to call again at a particular time.