Using the Most Powerful Tool In Your Office, the Phone
One of the most powerful tools we have in our offices is the telephone. It’s often the one that’s most abused. Do yourself a favor and take a second before you place a call or answer one to clear away distractions.
Don’t read or write email messages, look up directions to a client’s office, file papers, check your calendar, wave to someone down the hall, or otherwise try to do something other than have an effective conversation.
I hate it when someone calls me and then says, “Can you hold on a minute while I finish this note?” No. Call me when you’re ready to talk.
Or when someone answers the phone and while attempting to talk to me ums and ahs and otherwise buys time to do something else while pretending to be engaged in our conversation. I can tell you’re not with me and I know that there are parts of the discussion that are going to have to be repeated another time. This annoys me. If now is not a good time to talk, say so or let the call go to voice mail and return it when you can give it proper attention.
We worship multitasking in our revved up business world, but the consequences of paying too little attention to too many things are sometimes distressingly negative. What we tell others when we’re not attentive is that someone or something else is more important at that moment. Which may be true. Then give that someone or something else priority until you’re finished.
Pay attention to what you’re doing. Think about why you jump from one thing to another. If there’s urgency in your phone work, all the more reason to give it priority mind space when you’re connected with someone. At the very least, be sensitive to the time and energy you’re causing others to expend (waste?) when you’re on the line but not really there.