Jedi Productivity 6 of 11: “Use the phone Luke…” Master the telephone

This post is part of the Star Wars Jedi Productivity blog post series.  There will be 11 posts coming weekly every Tuesday for… yes… just counted it… the next 11 weeks.  These posts will guide your journey from a wilful, novice young pretender who is controlled by time…  into a magnificent Jedi who uses time as her own power.  The full set of posts are available from here.

“Use the phone Luke…” Master the telephone

“I am so busy” everybody’s excuse

We are now over half-way through this series of blog posts about being a Productivity Jedi.  I think the simple summary really is about 2 things: 1) picking times where you shut out everybody else and focus on what is important to you, and 2) using discipline tools such as goals and pomodoro technique to make steady progress on your projects.

Last week we looked at how to manage email.  This week I am reflecting on another ubiquitous office tool: the telephone.

Photo Credit: Kenny Jeffery (KLJ3) via Compfight cc
Galactic Communication: “Luke? Is that you?” Photo Credit: Kenny Jeffery (KLJ3)

Rule #4:  Remember, your phone is there for your convenience.

Your Phone is for Your Convenience

There are two types of phone call:  Outbound and Inbound

Inbound calls:  You do not have to answer.  I have my telephone on silent most of the time.  I don’t think that just because somebody has my telephone number, that they get permission to interrupt me.  People like ex-President Clinton, Lady Gaga, Bono, Richard Branson have staffs of up to 30 people whose sole job is to restrict access to their boss.  These artists and leaders can only be good artists and leaders because they say “No” to the demands of others and say “Yes” to their own ability to create, to think or to imagine.

3 options:

  • don’t answer,
  • answer and say “I have 2 minutes before my meeting starts” or
  • answer and say “Hey, so great to talk!  How are things?  What can I do to help you?”.   Your voice tone matters: Start with enthusiasm.  If you are answering, take a breath before picking up the phone and put aside any frustrations, angers, annoyances you have with something else – you cannot infect this call with negative energy right from the start if you want the call to be of value to you.

Outbound calls: Before you even touch the phone, write down your Point X.  Point X is the statement: “When I have finished speaking with this person, they will __[Action]__”.  Make sure you are clear on what action the person on the other side of call will do.  Is it tangible, is it specific, is it concrete, is it realistic?  If yes, yes, yes, yes… Make the call.  If not, change your Point X.  (Short video on developing your Point X)

7 Powerful Phone Habits

  1. Use pauses.  When the other finishes speaking, pause 3 seconds to see that they have finished.
  2. Practice empathic listening – rephrase what you are hearing.  In the absence of body language, you need to double up your audible checking that you and the other person are following each other’s lines of thought.
  3. Offer 2 choices: If a face-to-face meeting is the most appropriate next step, use the 2-choice strategy. Offer two times, “Mr. Davis, I can be at your office at 2:15 p.m. today to discuss this further. Or would 9:45 a.m. tomorrow better suit your schedule?” You don’t say: “When can we meet?”  Offer 2 options.  (The use of :15 or :45 shows that you take time seriously… be on time.)
  4. Use the person’s name 2-3 times
  5. Avoid negotiating anything over the telephone.  If you must negotiate, use long pauses and don’t rush or allow the other to rush you.  Repeat any agreement at the end of the call and follow up with the same agreement in writing (I use email).
  6. Stand up while you talk on the phone – you breath better, you feel stronger, you stretch your body at the same time
  7. Visual clues: If you have a mirror or can see your reflection in the glass, it gives you energy.  I hate speaking into space.  I need to see something.  Mirror is good.  Photos of the other’s face is good.  The mirror can help you to project a more powerful spoken image over the phone.

Voicemail bonus tips

Leave enough information so that they can contact you, but not enough so that they can take a clear decision whether to say yes or no.

Leave your name, your company name, and one question designed to elicit either pain or interest.  Mention your phone number (slowly) two times: once at the beginning of your message and then again at the end.

Say it in 8-15 seconds, or reduce what you intend to say.  I hate long, drawn out elaborate discussions – and it tells me that the person doesn’t care about me and about my time.  Voicemail is not for thinking out loud.

Cold calling

I hate people who cold-call me.  I have never bought anything because a company has asked their sales team to interrupt me.  If you are in sales, do research.  Make the calls warm.  Find something in common, some interest.

In a world of LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ there should be less and less need to do outright cold calls.

Goodbye Ad-Hoc, Hello Systematic

In order to be a full Jedi time manager, the novice must learn to use proven tools such as:

  • Prioritising
  • Goal Setting
  • Deadlines
  • Delegation
  • Planning

That’s what this post series is all about.  You will become a master of the force and a power user of the tools of systematic, habitual action.

Are you a Jedi guided missile?  Are you systematic in how you set goals and make daily progress on what is important?  Or, are you more of an ad-hoc novice?

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Author: Conor Neill

Hi, I’m Conor Neill, an Entrepreneur and Teacher at IESE Business School. I speak about Moving People to Action.

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