Phone calls continue to be one of the most dependable and effective communication tools. In a world where emailing and texting are becoming the most popular choices for reaching out to someone, the phone call is a more personal option. A quick call can be much more efficient than a round of emails, text messages or instant messages. They are crucial in maintaining customer relationships. And when face-to-face meetings aren’t an option, they are the only choice for addressing conflict, providing feedback, and discussing sensitive or confidential matters.
- Answer the phone enthusiastically.
- Identify yourself always. When answering the phone, say something like “John Doe, XYZ Co.” When making a call, say “This is John Doe from XYZ Co. I’m calling to …”
- Focus on the call. Turn away from your computer, set aside what you are working on and pay attention. If you multitask, the other person will know, and you could appear scattered or rude.
- Answer a call by the third ring.
- Give your recipient a true estimate of the amount of time that you will need.
- Speak in a pleasant and professional tone.
- Maintain a moderate speed. If you speak too fast, you’ll seem hurried or the person may not understand you.
- Show a genuine interest in the person’s call.
- Use standard manners, such as saying “Please” and “Thank you.”
- Ask your callers for permission to put them on hold. Always offer a brief explanation as to why you are placing a caller on hold.
To learn even more rules for communicating on the phone, purchase Professional and Promotable: Etiquette for Today’s Workplace. The new training kit teaches you business etiquette ground rules for the workplace. Follow them, and you will prevent conflicts, build stronger work relationships, present a polished and professional image, and be seen as a model employee—the type that is sure to advance in your organization.
[Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr.
You would be surprised by how even the littlest things can force a wedge between you and your co-workers. Day after day of smelling your perfume or stinky lunches or too often having to listen to you take personal calls can drive coworkers to the brink. They may not know how to communicate the problem to you, and so they act out with rudeness or avoidance. If you follow these rules, you will do your part to reduce conflict at work.
- Talk on the phone loudly—especially on personal calls.
- Show up late for meetings.
- Be nosy, looking over a co-worker’s shoulder to check out his or computer screen.
- Take supplies from teammates’ desks without asking.
- Chew gum loudly or talk with your mouth full of food.
- Wear too much perfume or cologne.
- Ask others to lie or cover for you.
- Talk religion or politics in the office.
- Tell offensive jokes.
- Watch inappropriate videos.
- Use obscenities and profanity regularly in work settings.
- Show up late for meetings or miss team events.
- Take personal time at the last minute, often leaving co-workers in the lurch.
- Clean up after yourself.
- Refill or replace something when you take or use the last of it (coffee, printer ink, pens).
- Say “Please” and “Thank You.”
- Share credit with those who deserve it.
- Accept blame when you make a mistake.
- Pull your own weight.
- Maintain a positive attitude.
- Turn your cell phone ringer off during meetings.
If your co-workers are the ones lacking manners, purchase The Co-Worker from Hell: Successfully Manage Your Most Challenging Work Relationships to discover how to minimize conflict with hellish coworkers, confront their behavior head-on, resolve your issues and move toward a successful work relationship.
This training kit includes the following:
- 75-page binder full of advice, quick tips, assessments and worksheets.
- CD of customizable, print-ready forms.
- 60-minute audio conference presentation Dealing With the Co-Worker From Hell with PowerPoint Presentaton and pdf of the presentation slides.
- 60-minute audio conference presentation How to Manage Frenemies, Friction & Frustration at Work with PowerPoint Presentaton and pdf of the presentation slides.
You’ve got a serious situation: Your team needs new software to complete a project. However, your boss just told you that your budget is slashed for the remainder of the year and that she will only approve critical expenses. You see no way to complete the project—and ensure quality—without the software. What do you do?
Persuading people, especially when money is involved, is never easy. The key is to prove to your boss that she can trust your ideas and believe in your plan. To do that, you must be prepared to the point that you leave very little room for doubt. Follow this process to persuade your boss to back your ideas:
- Rehearse the main points of your discussion. Write your ideas on paper and practice delivering your viewpoints in front of a mirror. You may feel strange (or lame), but you will come across as much more confident—and competent—and that is critical to gaining someone’s support for an idea.
- Grab your boss’s attention. Put yourself in your boss’s shoes, and frame your argument based on specific pain points. For example, explain that you’ll miss a deadline on a much anticipated product launch without additional resources.
- Do your homework. You can’t gain buy-in if you aren’t prepared with accurate, detailed and organized information. Present evidence that your idea will work—and is worthy of the expense. Research what your competitors are doing, offer multiple price quotes, and document how your idea will ultimately save or generate money.
- Use an appropriate communication style. Use tact to present your argument and respect the other person’s time. Being pushy or angry will immediately put your boss on the defensive. Stick to the facts, stay calm, and don’t complain.
- Schedule a meeting to discuss your plan, instead of barging into your boss’s office. Send documentation, whether that’s a report or pricing quotes, prior to the meeting so your boss has time to review them before your discussion.
- Listen to your boss’s response. You may hear cues that will lead you to a compromise or another solution. Ultimately, accept that the money just might not be there, and prepare yourself to get back to work and do the best you can.
Have you ever been declined resources or manpower because of budget restrictions? How did you overcome that?
[photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/85638163@N00/4627835906/%5D
Office parties are making a comeback this year, according to a survey released this week by Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., an outplacement consulting firm. More than 83% of companies it surveyed are holding a year-end holiday party, compared with only 68% last year.
When a friend is tempted to skip an office party, I always say “Go.” It’s not just a party. If you navigate it the right way, it can cement your reputation as a polished, professional team member. Make the most of your office party by following these tips:
- Prepare your staff. Take a few minutes at a team meeting before the party to ensure that your employees know what to expect and how to behave. You could start by discussing some of the worst office party behaviors, including skimpy attire, fistfights and attendees bringing Tupperware to take home any leftovers, all examples from a survey by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service for interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals.
- Work the room. Treat the office party like a networking event. Instead of sticking with your co-workers, take the opportunity to meet and get to know people outside your department. If you work for a large organization, take the time to learn who’s who before you arrive. (That will avoid an embarrassing situation like one I described on The Organized Executive’s Blog.) Be ready to talk about something other than work. Taking an interest in people during the office party can improve your work relationships for the year ahead.
- Make sure everyone has fun. Introduce new employees to co-workers they may not have met yet. Schedule in-office parties at a time that doesn’t conflict with deadlines, and make sure everyone has a break in his or schedule to attend, including the receptionist.
- Don’t dine and dash. Team members will notice if you show up empty-handed for the office potluck, fill your plate and head back to your desk. They also notice if you always sign up for something that takes no effort, like napkins. You don’t have to be a good cook to contribute. One male manager impressed his team at a potluck luncheon this fall by arriving with a slow cooker full of chili. He confessed that he took the crock into a Wendy’s restaurant and paid to have it filled with food. Make sure the same staff members aren’t always stuck on cleanup duty too.
- Say “Thank you.” Whether your executives fund a lavish affair with a caterer or a dedicated group of co-workers pull together a simple office luncheon, show your appreciation.
Finally, you can learn a lot by being observant at the office party. In the book Nine Minutes on Monday, consultant James Robbins describes “The Spouse Test” that one manager uses, often during a holiday party: a spouse’s reaction to you can be a barometer for how well an employee likes working for you.
Share your advice for office parties in the Comments section below.
Learn the “power questions” to ask at the office party—and what not to say—from a post on the Bud to Boss Blog.
Photo credit: heather.williams / Foter / CC BY