I’ve often heard small business people complain about how this or that person, often a techno geek, only likes to communicate via email, and avoids phone conversations. Well this is a rant from a techie perspective.
Phone etiquette has changed rapidly over the past several years due to the wide acceptance of email, chat, instant messaging and text messaging into our daily lives. No longer is the phone the best way to handle most types of business communication. There are still people, however, who insist on using the phone for every contact. Generally the worst offenders are those who don’t use computers. Modern day Luddites. Do any of these situations sound familiar?
1. You leave the message “Call me” on the answering machine without mentioning the reason why you are calling of why the recipient should return your call.
Why this is bad: This kind of phone call is impossible to schedule. It could take an hour, or it could take a minute. It also smells of power trip, as you order the recipient to call you back, not for any reason, but because you said so.
2. You insist on communicating highly detailed information, such as project specifications over the phone.
Why this is bad: You won’t take the time to put your ideas down to paper or computer, so now the recipient of the call is your secretary. Hopefully they take notes well for you and don’t miss any details.
3. You call too often.
Why this is bad: Unscheduled phone calls can be disruptive and time consuming. If you call just to touch base, check on progress, or for other trivial matters, you can quickly become a pest unless you are calling someone who’s sole job is to talk on the phone.
4. You stay on the phone too long.
Why this is bad: Phone conversations take longer and demand more exclusive attention than do other means of communication. If there is a lot of information to impart, the phone is probably not the best means of communicating it, and you are wasting someones valuable time.
5. You don’t schedule your phone calls.
Why this is bad: Scheduling phone calls and deciding on the subject matter prior to the call ensures everyone involved has the time set aside to talk, and is prepared for the topic at hand. Trying to instigate phone conferences off the cuff, and then playing phone tag to try to get something going is inefficient.
6. You ask for a return call after hours or on weekends.
Why this is bad: Sure, we all work on weekends these days. The lingering benefit of a weekend for some of us, however, is that you can get some work done without interruption. Give us a short break from your needs and impulses, so we can spend time and do a good job on what you are asking us to do in the first place.