While downloads of work-messaging apps surge amid the crisis, an old-school form of communication is also proving valuable: picking up the phone and calling someone.

Calling someone is a better format for conveying emotion or concern, particularly around sensitive or urgent issues. Still, at a time when surveys show that 80% of especially millennial workers in their 20s and 30s hate talking on the phone and are likely to decline calls they receive, there is room for learning. Here is a cheat sheet on the new rules of the telephone.


Beware of background noise

Your new work environment is going to come with a new set of sounds that can disrupt the flow of a call. Get ahead by alerting others to your sound challenges, and mute yourself as much as you can. Mind your use of speakerphone: to you, it may sound quiet, but to callers on the other end? They probably can hear the laundry tumbling in the background. Make sur to test your headphones or earbuds out; while convenient, they can sometimes make you sound distant and pick up extra background noise.


Listen to your own voice (as much as it pains you)

The way we sound in person is often different from how we sound on the phone, in part because cell phones do not always reproduce full range of our voices. There is also the fact that most people hate the sound of their own voice because we hear ourselves differently than outsiders, thanks to vocal vibrations in our head that other people do not hear. You can work on sounding more professional by recording yourself and playing it back, to scrutinize whether your nervous giggle or habit of saying “yeah” too often needs some editing.


Know the level of urgency

One of the best ways to avoid a smartphone faux pas is to set ground rules up front of what is urgent and what is not. If you do not want to make people feel that way, tell them it is not urgent, or establish levels of importance; maybe an email can be answered in due course, but a text message means it is urgent.


Back yourself up

Once you have decided how to respond to a call, text, or email, it is a good idea to back up your action. If you called your boss back but did not leave a voice mail, you can also email her saying you tried to reach her. Or you could send a text to say you saw that you missed her call, but you were in the middle of another one. That way your boss knows you are paying attention, and if she calls you out for not answering the phone, you can defend yourself by showing your written attempt to get in touch.


Communicated by Korn Ferry

Publié le 05 juin 2020