Pick up the phone, and not just when it rings.

I’ve written before about how important it is that we don’t let our phone skills lapse, because there’s nothing like a live conversation for establishing clarity of  information, degree of urgency, tone of mood and (ultimately) the building of relationships.

 A well-written email does of course play its part when it comes to detail but it’s still possible to lose much in translation.  You can’t rule out somebody misinterpreting the spirit in which it was written, and it’s no wonder that the brevity of a text has to be embroidered by a proliferation of emojis and excitable punctuation marks in order to leave nothing to chance.  How often does the re-reading of an email that is sitting in your ‘sent’ box send shivers down your spine?  Often I bet.  It happens; and when it does, how best to put an abrupt stop to any awkward follow-up messages?    

When cutting to the chase there is no more efficient way to lay fears to rest than by picking up the phone, so don’t let this be the last resort.  Often it should be the first, and here’s yet another example of why:   

Imagine a typical scam whereby the recipient opens an email from somebody he/she knows. There’s nothing suspect in the email address, the headline message is brief and beggars some sort of response, eg: “small favour request, please get back to me for detail” and on doing so the recipient is made to understand that the apparently genuine friend needs to send somebody a voucher but can’t because her credit card’s not working.  “Would you mind doing this for me, and of course I’ll pay you back in due course?”

Alarm bells will be ringing I am sure. You’ll all have seen this sort of thing.  You know you’d never fall for it, even if the request was from your best friend and not just because I’ve already told you it’s a scam.  But have a care for those that are so eager to help out that they go ahead and initiate the order process online. 

As luck would have it, in this case the happy ending was because the password wouldn’t work so our scammee decided to call his friend to explain why he was dithering.  Lo and behold, the scam was immediately laid bare for what it was.  A small victory then with a simple act of dialling a number, indicative of the fact that those who devise these schemes are relying on the fact that so few people use the telephone these days to make live calls.    

This is not an email to guard against scams but to re-emphasise the importance of picking up the phone and having a conversation, so take every opportunity you can to do this.

Employers place a premium on those who are prepared to pick up a phone for it implies initiative, confidence and energy.  These are all qualities that you’ll need to display in the workplace but before you get the chance to prove this in interview you have somehow got to convey this in a CV.   Properly written there are ways to do this, but invariably in the application process you are invited to phone a number for further detail…..

WHY WOULD YOU NOT? 

You have nothing to lose. If nobody answers you may even get the chance to leave a voicemail, and the world is split between those who are bad at this and those that have learned how to do this properly (believe me – it’s an art in itself). Often the recruiters are simply curious to see which applicants bother to seize the best chance they’ll ever get to jump the queue. The good news for anybody who is properly work savvy is that so many don’t. 

It’s not just good to talk. Sometimes it can make all the difference.

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