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Tips on Effective Telephone Communication

by
author image Erica Roth
Erica Roth has been a writer since 2007. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a college reference librarian for eight years. Roth earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Brandeis University and Master of Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Her articles appear on various websites.
Tips on Effective Telephone Communication
A man talking into a phone while sitting at a counter with a laptop. Photo Credit Flying Colours Ltd/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Overview

In the age of texting and instant online messages, the art of telephone communication sometimes seems as if it is going by the wayside. Telephone communication can be casual, between friends, or a more formal part of business. Effective telephone communication begins before you even pick up the phone. Thinking about what message you need or want to convey, how you propose to get your information across and how to listen well are all part of effective telephone communication.

Find Some Quiet

Communicating over the telephone is much more effective when both parties can hear each other clearly without background noise. Plan to make your call, whether it's for work or just to catch up with an old friend, at a time in which you are not required to attend to any other business. If you are taking an incoming call, try to find a quiet spot in your home where your caller will not be competing with the rest of your family. Blaring noises, such as the television, road traffic and needy children, can interfere with both your listening and communication skills, making it more difficult for you to conduct the business of your telephone call.

Choose Your Words

Your language plays a large role in developing effective telephone communication skills. Being polite is always expected when you speak on the telephone, but thinking about your words before you place your call can help you make your point clearly, as well as give the person on the other end of the line a good impression. Writing out a script of the main points you want to cover, in addition to the names of the people you need to speak to, might help you keep yourself on track, according to the State of Idaho Department of Labor. Try to use neutral language to soften negative responses, so that the person to whom you are talking will keep listening. The South Carolina Division of State Information Technology offers phrases such as "I suggest" or "I recommend," instead of "you should" or "you need to." Often, when a caller does not hear what he wants or expects to hear on the line, he stops listening, and your communication has effectively stopped.

Dress the Part

You might find that you communicate better over the phone when you sit up straight, dressed in clothing appropriate to the task at hand, and otherwise conduct yourself in a professional manner. Talking while sprawled out on the couch can muffle your voice and make hearing difficult for the person to whom you are speaking. If you are using the phone for professional purposes, practice answering questions using either a partner or a tape recorder, to get feedback about your tone of voice, as well as your speaking volume.

Listen Fully

Communication means listening, as well as talking. Listen attentively without cutting your telephone correspondent off. Acknowledge a comment every now and then, so your caller knows you are listening, and have not just tuned her out. But don't comment so often that it seems you are just interjecting the same phrases--"I see," "right," "OK" are a few examples--without really listening. Have a notepad and pen ready, so you can write down any pertinent information, and repeat it to the other person if either of you needs clarification.

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