Conversation Still Counts

“Hello?”

“Hi this is____, calling from______. Is this Quinn Smeaton?”

Prior to this phone conversation, I had never contacted someone outside of the office on my landline phone. Even though I had set up a voicemail, the only calls I received were from the FPA U Program Manager. Since I primarily use email, I never considered how I should answer the phone at the office. When I noticed that someone other than my supervisor was calling me, I panicked. What do I say when I pick up the phone?

“Hi this is Quinn Smeaton, Foreign Policy Association University.”

No, too long.

“Quinn Smeaton, Foreign Policy Association.”

Still too wordy.

I then realized that I didn’t have enough time to come up with the perfect phone greeting. When I picked up the phone, the best thing I could come up with was “Hello?”

Pathetic? I know. Thankfully, the call went well. But after getting off the phone, I decided that my phone greeting would be “Quinn Smeaton, FPA.”

So you might be thinking, what’s the point of this blog post? Our generation is used to using instant forms of communication, whether it’s an email or a text message. While we might feel more comfortable sending an email, it isn’t necessarily the best choice for the workplace.

Why? Other AU Intern Bloggers such as Sarah McIntosh have also written about “Overcoming Phone-A-Phobia.” While I can relate, I’ve realized that our generation’s reluctance with calling someone on the phone can hurt us in a work environment.

I understand that most workplaces are adapting to changing technology, but we shouldn’t move away from some established workplace traditions. While being able to write a clear, organized email is an important skill, being able to speak and clearly communicate over the phone and in-person is just as important, whether you are speaking with a customer, vendor or a colleague. Listening carefully and reading “between the lines” by hearing the tone in someone’s voice will tell you a lot about the real intent of the call.

While I am also at fault of sending an email instead of making a phone call, I have tried to move away from this habit. Last month, I contacted a potential venue by phone. Not only did we eventually confirm the event space, but I also explained our FPA U program to the venue’s representative who was very interested in attending one of our career seminars.

Instead of just hitting send on your next email at work, give the person a call. You might be surprised at where the conversation will take you!

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