The Best Way to Start Phone Conversations

The Best Way to Start Phone Conversations

We shouldn't assume that family, friends and colleagues are available to talk just because they answer the phone. We also shouldn't assume they'll be focused on the call just because they answered.

Instead, we should assume they could be nearly anywhere on the planet and doing just about anything when we call without notice. That's why it's important to start phone calls correctly.

In this post, I’m going to share the best way to start phone conversations.

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    Confirm the called party is Available to Talk and Can focus on the Call


    The best way to start phone conversations with family, friends and colleagues is to confirm they're available to talk and can focus on the call.

    After the called party answers, start the call with a short greeting and say who you are (if the called party won't remember your name or doesn't have caller ID) and then confirm the called party is available to talk and can focus on the call. Granting this courtesy at the beginning of phone conversations exhibits an immediate respect for the called party and sets expectations for the phone call.

    The examples below illustrate how to confirm a called party is available/unavailable to talk. In some examples the called party is available, but since he/she is unfocused on the call, the caller insists on calling back.

    Available to Talk

    A: Hello.
    B: Hey Joe. Are you busy?
    A: Not at all. How ya doin'?

    A: What's up?
    B: Hey dad. Are you at home?
    A: I'm making dinner. What’s goin' on?

    A: Hello.
    B: Hi Keith. This is Tim Sanders. Do you have a few minutes to talk about the blueprints you sent me yesterday?
    A: Sure. What'd you think?

    A: Hi Wendy.
    B: Are you still at work?
    A: I’m finishing my presentation for tomorrow.
    B: Do you want me to call back later?
    A: That's ok. I'm ready for a break. What's up?

    Unavailable to Talk

    A: Hello?
    B: Hi Ray. This is Tomohiro Sato. I'm returning your call. Is now a good time?
    A: I’m actually on my way out the door. Can I call you back in about an hour?
    B: Of course.
    A: Thanks, Tomohiro. Talk to you then. Goodbye.
    B:  Goodbye.

    A: Hello.
    B: Hey Paul. Can you talk now?
    A: [loud music playing in the background] What'd you say?
    B: Can you talk?
    A: [speaking above the music] I'm at a concert. What'd you say?
    B: I’ll call you tomorrow.
    A: [shouting] Tomorrow?
    B: I’ll call you tomorrow. Have fun. Bye.

    A: Hello.
    B: Hey Kevin. Is now a good time?
    A: Yeah. I'm just taking the kids to the beach. [talking to his son] Quit teasing your sister!
    B: So, did you hear about ––
    A: [talking to his daughter] Stop throwing things at your brother! 
    B: You sound busy. I'll call you later. When's good for you?
    A: 3:00.
    B: Ok. I'll call you then. Bye.
    A: Bye.

    A: [breathing heavily] Hello.
    B: Hi, Sam. Did I catch you at a bad time?
    A: I'm on the treadmill.
    B: Real quick –– when's Rebecca's birthday?
    A: [breathing heavily] July 8th.
    B: Awesome! Thanks! Have a good run! Talk to you later.
    A: Bye.

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      You just learned the best way to start phone conversations. By confirming the called party is available to talk and can focus on the call, exhibits respect for the called party and sets expectations for the call. Try it the next time you call family, friends and colleagues.

      How do you start conversations on the phone? Answer in the Comments below.

      The Best Way to Start Phone Conversations first appeared on the Culture Gaps Blog by Jeff Shibasaki.


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      Jeff Shibasaki blogs about effective communication skills for the USA at Culture Gaps and healthy web design for unhealthy websites at Bento Sites.