Reach Out and Touch Someone

Telephoneby Jeff Justice, CSP

Are you like me, always on the phone, trying to reach people who aren’t there? Now, due to the magic of voicemail, you can play phone-tag for weeks. Don’t you feel blessed when, even though you can’t reach the person you want to talk to, you actually get to leave a message with a human being? It puts being ignored on a warm, personal level! Most people’s calls sound like this:

“Hello, is Jim there?”

“I’m sorry. He won’t be back till next week.”

“Oh, man, he’s never there. I’ll call back.”

Me, I try to get that person to laugh a little, make a connection:

“Hello, is Jim there?”

“I’m sorry. He won’t be back till next week.”

“Okay, I’ll hold….”

One time, the receptionist said, “Okay!” and mashed the hold button!

How many times have you phoned a business and gotten a gatekeeper in the form of a secretary or receptionist? Sometimes, they decide whether you get through. They always ask, “Who are you with?” And I always answer, “Actually, I’m just here at my desk, by myself, but thanks for asking!” Again, the shortest distance between two people is often a laugh.

When I call back, people remember me as someone who made their day a little better and not a little worse. That’s the point: whatever job you have, your success depends on making connections and creating relationships. It’s how you get people to work with you and not just for you. President Eisenhower is credited with saying, “I would rather have one person working with me than ten people working for me.” Those who work with you will be there when you need them. People who work for you will be there only when you pay them.

It’s easy to fall into the business-as-usual trap when you’re making business calls. You’ve got your list of things to do and things to talk about. And it’s just a disembodied voice on the other end of the line. Put a mirror where you can see yourself while you talk. It will remind you to smile — lighten up!

Learn to bring people with you, even over the phone.

If you found these tips from Jeff Justice, CSP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in his self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.

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