Lost Art?

Being on the receiving end of a phone call these days can feel like an invasion of privacy, reports The Globe and Mail. But Mary Jane Copps (aka “The Phone Lady”) argues here that business still happens on the phone. In the present ’emoticon era’ however, “phone skills” involve fingers – not voices – meaning graduating students entering the workforce are not prepared for real live phone conversations with clients. According to Copps though, a lack of phone skills isn’t merely a generational failing. Many professionals in the workplace rely on e-mail, leaving their phone skills rusty.

Copps tells us it’s the caller’s responsibility to quickly diffuse the receiver’s defensiveness by avoiding opening lines such as “how are you doing today?” Back in the 90’s, as a green rookie nervously cold-calling forthright lumber buyers in Massachusetts, I certainly learned that rule in a hurry!

Today, email threads have replaced paper trails in Hilroy Notebooks confirming lumber tallies and other details of the order. But the phonecall remains a critical piece. Trading floor atmosphere is conducive to building energy and reading market moods, and interpreting those changes critical to decision-making. Perhaps the number of failed on-line lumber exchanges also reinforces the importance of the telephone. Anyone remember TALPX? Recall the biggest complaint among participating buyers and sellers was that “we always ended up having to pick up the phone anyway”.


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