[your first and last name] with [your company and department] speaking.” If you’re in the transition process, or if you provide your cell phone number to business partners, consider answering your cell phone with a professional and informative greeting when an unsaved number calls: “Hello, Sarah Silvers speaking.”Technological Competence When we speak of technological competence, Millennials are often quite adept. However, a 22 year old at their first office job with their own desk telephone might be unfamiliar with important features. Crucial features include how to transfer a call, place a call on hold, and retrieve a voicemail message. Before you find yourself in any of these situations, ask for training on these functions. Ask before it’s too late. These questions are welcome during your first week; however, asking two months into the job hurts your reputation.Give Your Full Attention A productive phone conversation requires concentration. Millennials are the generation of multitaskers, so resist the urge to type that concluding sentence on your post or scan a new email while you’re speaking on the phone. When you’re distracted, you can’t truly listen to the person on the call. Listen actively and avoid interrupting your colleague.Graceful Goodbyes When you’re not used to speaking on the phone, the “goodbye” part seems daunting or awkward. Follow the suggestions of the experts; thank your colleague for their time, smile, and conclude with, “Thank you for your time. Bye for now.” Or try, “It was a pleasure to visit with you. Let me know if I can answer more questions. Goodbye.” Invite them to call if they need anything else.
Telephone conversation aptitude is an important professional skill. You’re likely to gain more intelligence from a phone conversation than an email, especially if you need a favor or are trying to make a new contact. A voice humanizes all of us, and a phone conversation is much more difficult to ignore than an email. So, use the office telephone as an asset. Our best advice for Millennials on December 18 is to refrain from participating in National Answer the Phone Like Buddy the Elf Day, especially if it’s your boss calling.
Sharon Schweitzer and Emilie Lostracco co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide (3rd printing), was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.
Emilie Lostracco is a Fall 2017 Cross-Cultural Communication Intern with Access to Culture. The Montreal native is currently a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, studying International Relations and Global Studies. Emilie specializes in international environmental efforts, European studies, and French. She plans on graduating with honors in December. Connect with her via Linkedin.
Photo Credit: Daniel Foster, Flickr