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How to Speak on the Phone

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 18 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Communications Expert

It is important both as a member of staff in an office and as a customer to be able to maintain a conversation on the telephone and to be able to glean information as well as providing it in a clear concise manner – here we explore how.

When to Talk and When to listen

When on the telephone it is important to know exactly when you should speak and when you should remain quiet in order for the other person to speak. All too often important pieces of information can be missed or confused if both parties are trying to speak at the same time. For example it is important to remain quiet once you have asked your question so that the person on the other end of the line can give you his or her answer clearly and without interruption.

The Use of Open and Closed Questions

Open and closed questions are an important part of any telephone conversation – either as a member of staff or as a customer making a call. A good example of an open question is: how are you today? Or how can I help you? This allows the other person to elaborate on their reason for calling and will allow you to take note of their query.

A closed question is much more straight forward and would consist of a question that allows for a simple yes or no answer. For example, are you ok? Is there anything else I can help you with? This allows the other person to answer with a yes or no answer and keeps things simple and to the point.

Verbal Nods

It is important whilst on the telephone to signify that you understand what you are being told. As neither you nor the other person can see each other it is sometimes necessary to make what is known as a ‘verbal nod’; a good example of this would be: Yes I understand. Or I know what you mean? This tells the other person you are following what they are saying and are managing to keep up with them.

Ask for Clarification

All too often important information is overlooked or misunderstood so it is of fundamental importance that you tell the other person that you do not understand or likewise ask them to repeat something if you have not fully heard them. This is not a sign of weakness but instead lets the other person know you are conscientious and attentive to detail.

Don’t Chew or Eat Whilst on the Telephone

This is a practice that many friends indulge in when they are talking on the telephone simply because they know each other and accept how they both behave. However in a professional scenario it is important not to chew or eat whilst on the telephone. This can be seen as – and often is taken as – a sign of disinterest and rudeness so avoid doing this at all costs.

To recap whilst on the telephone it is important to listen, to speak when prompted and to make notes as to the nature of the conversation, especially if the information you are being given is of some importance. It is also important that when you do make or receive a telephone call you do so with the minimum of background noise as this can also add to the confusion.

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