A significant part of business communication is handled over the phone. There’s a correct way to speak and a correct way to get your point across. A third of Americans believe, according to a survey reported by ABC News, the general manners of the population are poor.
As we all know, manners can make or break a business relationship. Say the wrong word to the wrong person and it could lead to a lost customer.
Let’s take a look at how you can improve your business manners and what you need to keep in mind.
It’s the foundation of every business phone call. Politeness should never become an afterthought. Take the extra time to treat the other person as if they’re the most important person in the world, without fawning over them.
It doesn’t require you to prostrate yourself. It’s a matter of basic manners, such as not talking over the other person and allowing them to take on the bulk of the conversation. This doesn’t mean you can’t put your point across. It means offer them the platform because you’re being polite.
And the most important part about being polite is keeping your cool even when the other person being downright rude. You should always be the bigger person.
Confidence is something you tend to acquire over time. Firstly, you have to understand the purpose of a phone call. A business phone call isn’t just about getting a new customer. It’s about maintaining current relationships.
Someone who is confident in what they’re saying would be described as someone who obviously knows what they’re talking about. If you need to ask for help from someone else to satisfy a customer inquiry, do so.
It’s also, to an extent, about dictating the relationship in a certain fashion. Confident customer service staff will be able to tell a customer the reality of the situation. They won’t dance around the issue. They’ll tell them something even if it happens to displease them.
Gaining Confidence through Practice
If you’re lacking in confidence and you need to call someone, practice your call first. An article by Microsoft specifically said you should avoid delays, especially if you’re putting them on hold. If you know what you’re going to say prior to making them call, the communication will flow.
For the most important business calls, try some of the following tactics:
- Write down the key points and questions you need to cover. Keep them in front of you during the call.
- Practice the call in front of the mirror to help reduce your nerves.
- Call someone you know and get them to practice the call with you.
- Act out the call with someone sitting in front of you. This will always be harder than placing a phone call, so you’ll no longer feel intimidated by making the business call.
Allow Silences to Occur
People are often scared of silence. They don’t want the call to feel awkward. This is why businesspeople are scared of making calls in the first place. Silences are a good thing and can demonstrate how polite you are.
What does silence do?
It’s a non-verbal cue. It says to the other person they can speak next. It’s ideal because it puts you in control of the relationship. You’re dictating the flow of speech to suit you. Furthermore, it means the other person doesn’t feel overwhelmed by your incessant jabbering.
Business calls should be productive affairs and they should give opportunity for all involved to speak and negotiate. Through small periods of polite silence, the call becomes a collaboration rather than a fight over who gets to speak first.
Overall, business phone manners are about learning to be confident and being willing to hand the initiative to the other person. While it might appear as if you’re taking a submissive position, it doesn’t have to mean bowing to another person’s whims. It’s simply about being polite by letting the other person speak and act before you do.
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