Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Telephone Etiquette

Since the invention of the telephone it has served as an integral part of business. Today, with the advent of cell phones this is even more true than ever before. We are constantly on call and available twenty-four hours a day.

Deals are made and lost on the telephone. Job searches are conducted, interviewed and negotiated over the telephone. Real estate is bought and sold over the telephone. Millions of dollars are exchanged daily through transaction negotiated over the telephone. Often these opportunities are made or lost by the use of either simple telephone etiquette and/or courtesy.

Over the years I have seen a decline in basic telephone courtesy in all areas of use, especially in the business world. Here are a few tips to help improve your chances of a successful telephone deal.

Answering a Call

Have you ever called someone and the first words they answered with were, “Who’s this?” Or, have you had someone call you and before you could say anything, they asked, “Who’s this?” How did you feel when this happened? Did you want to continue with the call?

There are two basic rules to answering the telephone.

1. Identify yourself.

2. Identify what company you are with (If this is a company phone).

If you are at work, in an office, this is very easy to remember. Most companies have a standard script they want you to follow when answering the telephone. If not, you need to develop your own script.

The problem usually occurs when you are answering a cell phone. Most people forget that if this is a business phone you should treat it as such and identify yourself and your company name. If you are self-employed your cell phone is your business lifeline and should be treated like any other professional office telephone.

Placing a Call

If you are placing a call the same two rules apply. After the other party has answered the telephone and identified themselves you should acknowledge them and then immediately identify yourself with your full name and your company (if you are making a company call). Don’t assume the other party will recognize your voice and don’t make them ask you who you are.

Leaving a Message on an Answering Machine

If you have to leave a message on an answering machine it is important to speak slowly, clearly and concisely. With the poor reception that often occurs with cell phones this can be a critical factor in whether your message is received or not.

Identify who the message is for at the beginning of the message. Then identify who you are, full name, the company you represent, if applicable, and your telephone number. Leave a simple message which covers the subject of the call but don’t embellish and ramble, as this may make the message confusing. At the end of your message repeat your name, company and your telephone number.

The Most Important Telephone Tip of All

The most important tip of telephone etiquette is to SMILE when you talk on the telephone. Yes, smile because it transmits through the telephone lines and airwaves to the other party. A simple smile will be reflected in your voice and your attitude while talking.

Your attitude can make or break a deal while talking on the telephone. If you are courteous and polite you will get more results. Often in the business world in order to get to the right decision makers you have to get past the gatekeepers, which are the receptionist, the assistants and the secretaries. By simply being polite and courteous you have a better chance of reaching the people you need to talk to in order to make a deal happen.

Today’s business environment revolves around telephones and especially cell phones. In our fast-pace world decisions are no longer just made in the Boardroom. They are made on the go, while on vacation, when at home, and anywhere else where you find yourself with a cell phone.

Courtesy and telephone etiquette are more important than ever before in helping insure you receive your portion of today’s business successes. Be polite and courteous whenever you are using a telephone.

Most importantly, remember to smile when talking on the telephone.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Three F’s of Leadership

There comes a point in every relationship, organization, business, and related activity when leaders must lead. The various teams have done their designing. The committees have reviewed it. Management has approved it. Now, it is time for leaders to take control and execute it. This is true whether we are talking about building a rocket ship or selling a house; once plans are made they have to be executed.

Leaders are the people that make it happen. They execute the plans and insure the goals are met. Whether they are leaders of a large group of fellow associates or they are an individual performance leader, such as sales leader, they set the pace and standards of the job to be done.

Leaders accomplish this through other people. A team leader will guide and direct his team insuring all the members maintain their focus on achieving the desired results. A sales leader will work with all parties of a transaction to insure they stay focused on making the transaction. The primary function of leadership in any situation involves working with and through other people to achieve the results of the goal.

Working with and through other people can be challenging but that is why you are the leader. As a leader it is important to learn and apply the three F’s of leadership in all their work relationships and interactions with other people. A leader should treat everyone with respect by being:

1. Fair

2. Firm

3. Frank


Your reputation is one of the most important assets you have. How people perceive you will determine how willing they are to work with you. As a team leader a positive reputation will make your associates put out the extra effort needed to accomplish any goal. As a sales leader your reputation will bring business and clients to you.

Being fair is simply treating all people the same. If people know they can trust you they will want to work with you. Be honest with all parties and work for a win-win solution to any problems that arise.

Make time for all your associates and business partners. This will go a long way to helping you achieve the reputation of being fair. Showing favoritism in any business relationship can have strong negative consequences.

Even in businesses where professional and corporate guidelines/rules appear to restrict your relationship with one party or the other in a business transaction you can still be fair in your actions. Be honest. If you cannot do something tell the party you cannot. By following the guidelines to the letter you are maintaining your fairness in the business relationship. Simply applying the rules equally to all parties with fairness and honesty helps you achieve your goals.


In the old days when you said a leader was firm you meant he ruled with an iron fist. There are still times when a leader has to be strict but being firm means more than this. It means being a decisive leader, one who can make a decision and follow through with it.

When being firm you need to stick to your principles and company policies/rules in all your business relationships. Don’t be indecisive when it comes to doing what is right or wrong. Let your principles and policies guide you in your decisions and how you implement actions.

When you make a decision stick with it, don’t be wishy-washy about it. You are not a “yes person” but you are the leader and at times it is your job to make the hard choices that are necessary to accomplish the goal.

Being firm also means when your decision or plans need to be changed you change them. But, you base the need to change on the facts needed to reach your goal. A good leader knows when and how to be flexible and adaptable.

Be open the suggestion, ideas, guidance and advice. A good leader does not make decisions in a vacuum but in the end a good leader makes the decision.


A good leader is an honest leader. His very principles demand truthfulness and honesty. He shares all the facts that he can with his team and/or clients to help them accomplish the goal.

When working in a team environment a good leader deals with all situations with truthfulness whether with the team or an individual. If praise is justified he gives it honestly and freely. If correction is needed he handles it with the same frankness, dealing with facts.

An individual leader such as a sales leader is frank with his associates and clients. He gives them all the facts, both good and bad, so they can make the best decision for their goals.

By following the three “F’s” of leadership a good leader will find the interaction with fellow associates and clients easier and more rewarding. Developing a reputation of being fair, firm and frank in your business relationships will help move you from being a good leader to being a great leader.