|Welcome to this issue of "Dr. T's Timely Tips" by Dr. Tony Alessandra. Please send your feedback to email@example.com!
You can tell a person's personality just by paying attention to how s/he communicates on the phone. For many people, using the Platinum Rule to determine a person's behavior style is easy in face-to-face interactions. Most people use their physical self, especially their unspoken body language, to convey their personality style, so when you have all the elements of the interaction you can identify their style. So what do you do on the phone, when you cannot see a person's body language? Rest assured that everyone's personality is just as identifiable on the phone as it is in person, you just need to know what to look for.
Indirect and Open
"How are you?" or "I'm glad to hear from you again," are typical Steady Relater greetings. Like those telephone company TV commercials, their warmth can seem to transcend the limitations of the phone lines. Although they prefer more personal interactions with people, they will also settle for indirect contact -- especially if the person is pleasant and non-threatening. They project this people orientation by phone and like to build a personal, first-name relationship with callers. Even if they do not know you, they may say, "You don't have to be formal. Just call me Alice." They may project a desire to know you personally or provide you with good service.
They communicate with steady, even vocal intonations to convey friendliness, comfort, and a sense of relaxation. Relaters tend to be naturals at listening to others' ideas and feelings, whether on the phone or in person. They tend to be interested in the blow-by-blow, point-by-point description of what you did yesterday or the sequential pattern of how to complete a certain task. You are probably talking to a Relater if you notice slower than average speech patterns, more moments of listening than of speaking, and references to actual, real-life experiences regarding either products or mutual acquaintances.
"I'll look it up for you"
Steady Relaters tend to express themselves in a rather tentative manner in both their face-to-face and telephone conversations. "I'll need to consult Mrs. Adams before I can make that decision," or, "I'm not sure we can do that, but I'll get back to you as soon as I find out." As in other aspects of their lives, they often defer to the more human, proven way things have always been done. They typically feel more comfortable making decisions based on conferring with others rather than by themselves. "What do you think?", "How do you feel?", and "What do you recommend?" are all common questions this type may ask.
Direct and Open
"What's up?" or "What's happening?" are usual Interacting Socializer opening lines. They are sometimes so animated that their gestures can be transmitted via the phone lines. How? By their varied, emotional vocal inflections/intonations and their colorful choice of words that may tend toward exaggeration. "Really? That's fantastic!" or, "You have to be kidding me!" The telephone can be a favorite toy that enables them to both prolong conversations and recharge themselves, especially when no one else is physically around. "I just called because I'm bored." You may also detect background noise when you speak to individuals of this type. They sometimes put on the TV or radio just for the sound, visual stimulation, and activity.
On the phone, Socializers speak rapidly and emotively. "I feel that if we go through with this plan, the community will resent us as anti-environmentalists," or, "I feel that I've contributed enough to this organization over the years to allow me to talk about this." Other styles may more naturally use thinking words, instead.
Say it with feeling
Typically, you will notice a wide range of vocal inflection and intonation and a tendency to want to know your reaction. "Do you feel that way, too?" They liven up conversations with personal anecdotes and may keep you on the phone longer than you had anticipated. If you need to extricate yourself from an extended monologue, try something like, "Well, Don, it's been great talking with you. I'm really looking forward to our appointment on Monday!" If you say it with feeling, the Socializer may already eagerly anticipate your meeting.
Indirect and Guarded
"Good afternoon, Mr. Lomis. This is Jonathan Williams. You asked me to call back Monday morning." Formal greetings are one tip-off that you may be dealing with a Cautious Thinker. Time-conscious individuals of this type often get to a task just when they say they will. Monday morning it is!
"May I speak with Mr. Holmes or Dr. Brothers?"
Thinkers prefer brief, to-the-point telephone calls. Although they may not tell you, call them Mister or Ms. or Doctor or whatever their titles happen to be. Thinkers sometimes view jumping into a first-name basis as invasion of privacy, so they deal with others on a more formal basis. If you think they are talking about to Sherlock Holmes or Dr. Joyce Brothers, chances are you have contacted a Thinker.
Careful and correct
Like Relaters, Thinkers tend to express themselves in a rather tentative manner. "I'll check on that and let you know tomorrow." Alternatively, they may want to provide you with information so you can form your own conclusions. "I have a copy of the Governor's report in my files. If I send it to you, perhaps you can find what you're looking for." Both these approaches satisfy Cautious Thinkers' need for caution and correctness. They simply may not want to be misquoted or, possibly, involved in the first place.
Direct and Guarded
When speaking on the phone to a Dominant Director, treat her the same way as in a person-to-person contact. Think of the ABC's: Keep it abridged, brief, and concise. Prepare your delivery with the bottom line in mind: "The trend in your industry is toward computer-generated graphics. The research we have conducted with other typesetters in your area indicates increased profits of 20 to 30% over two years. I'd like to meet with you for 10 minutes to show you the numbers and see if this concept interests you."
They waste no time
It is not unusual for a Director to call someone and, without saying hello, launch right into the conversation. "You've got to be kidding; the shipment from Hong Kong will kill us . . . by the way, this is Jack." When other people cannot keep up with their speed, they may view them as incompetent.
On the telephone, determine whether the person sends power signals. Dominant Directors want to pick the time and place to meet. They often speak in a sort of shorthand -- concisely and pointedly -- and sound cool, confident, and demanding. When Director Dennis phones, he actually says, "Sue? Dennis? Tony!" Talking to him is like speaking to a human telegram. He reduces the concept of brief and to-the-point to another dimension. As commanding speakers who tend not to listen to others, they naturally want to direct the conversation toward their goals. Under stress, they can become defensive and aggressive, attacking others personally to show who is in control. They dislike using touchy-feely, emotional terms and prefer sensible thinking terminology. "I think we'll implement this plan tomorrow," or, "I think this discussion is over."
Here's to more personal insight,
"Are you making a winning impression with the telephone?"
The telephone. It has become such an integral part of our lives. It sits on our desk. It follows us home from work. It wakes up with us in the morning. It even goes with us on vacation (sadly).
Wherever we are, there it is...and yet, we probably know less about using the telephone than we know about using our computers or any other New Age technology.
That is because the telephone is more than just a technology. It is a form of communication - it is the bridge we use to connect with customers, employees, spouses, and friends everyday, from anywhere.
Let that bridge collapse due to poor communication skills, poor phone etiquette, or a less than pleasant telephone manner... and it could mean angry customers, a blown job prospect, resentful friends, and thousands in lost sales - especially if you're an entrepreneur with a young business.
Knowing how to communicate via the telephone is an essential business and personal development skill - much like public speaking, writing, or networking. Once you master this skill, you will feel less anxious, less self-conscious, and more capable of getting the result you want from the people in your work and life. You will create as powerful a first impression on the phone as you would in person, wearing a $5,000 Armani suit.
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