As we receive a number of telephone calls here at Message Takers each and every day we have been able to identify five simple everyday actions that can cause telephone rage. You will be very surprised at how these simple little actions can translate into huge annoyances through their misperception by those on the other end of the phone.
1 Eating & Drinking – More and more of us are not taking time out for lunch and instead we sit at our desks eating and drinking whilst working. Our lunchtimes or break merge into our working day and it is all too easy to pick up the phone and take a call whilst chomping through a sandwich or slurping a cup of coffee. You may think this makes you sound dedicated, because you are clearly working hard whilst eating. Unfortunately this is not the case at all, because the telephone amplifies your voice and therefore it picks up each and every crunching, slapping, slurping and chomping sound which is delivered straight into the ear of the person on the other end of the phone. It is very unpleasant to listen to and most people find mouth smacking very rude.
2 Doodling and Fidgeting – Whilst you are on the telephone (not Face Time or Skype) you feel re-assured that the caller cannot see your actions. This means it is very easy to adopt bad habits. You think nothing of picking up a pen and possibly taking notes, but then you start to doodle and draw flowers and other interesting images. These actions will very quickly distract you and the caller will pick up a sense of your lack of interest even if you didn’t intend this to be the case. Even fidgeting and fiddling will be picked up by the caller even though they cannot see what you are doing. Your voice will change, they’ll know you are moving from the change in sound and once again you will sound extremely distracted.
3 Third Person Interruptions – These are annoying for both you and a caller. There are those colleagues that are in the office with you who hear your side of the conversation and get all too eager to interject and correct you with information. This is extremely annoying and hugely distracting for both you and the caller. Whilst on the telephone you may want to check information with a colleague and whilst you are running through detail or information with them this can sound extremely unprofessional to the caller who may get frustrated as they can’t hear what your colleague is saying to you. If you need to check details, it’s better to explain to the caller that you need to do this and place them on hold. If you do put a caller on hold, remember to go back to them at least every 30 seconds or so to keep them informed.
4 Volume & Proximity – You are probably aware of volume more when you see people on mobile phones talking loudly to the person on the other end. You often wonder if these people actually need a phone, as the person they are speaking to can probably hear their voice without it. However, telephone microphones are sensitive and you can be assured that a caller will be able to hear you if you just speak normally. It’s also worth considering how closely you need to put your mouth to the microphone on your telephone – a caller just needs to hear your voice, but if you are too close they’ll hear your breathing and also your breath can cause annoying interference. You don’t want to be too far away from the microphone either, because you will sound very muffled.
5 Pace – We are not all at a desk when using phones these days and if you are walking or undertaking other activities whilst on the phone it can affect the pace at which you speak. If your pace quickens it makes it difficult for callers to understand what you are saying and almost impossible for them to take notes or collect details from you. Being too slow and far too elaborative is also extremely frustrating.
Be aware of these five simple actions whilst taking telephone calls. Above all concentrate, give the caller your full attention. If you are working at your desk and the temptation to pick up the phone whilst you are eating lunch is too great then finish the food in your mouth before picking up the receiver. If you are out and about and take a telephone call it is better to stop walking and take a moment to speak to the person on the other end of the line.
What sounds and actions are annoying to you when heard over the telephone?