Talking is something which comes naturally to us in everyday situations. Through a myriad of gestures, facial expressions and words we manage to get our meaning across.
Whether ordering our favourite coffee or asking a friend about their weekend, we exchange information almost instantaneously, often without thinking.
However, in the business environment, where communication can be one of the more important elements of any transaction, it's necessary for all team members to have the skills to inform and negotiate with other parties, or even between departments.
While teleconferencing and web conferencing present a convenient and effective way of communicating across physical boundaries, employers and workers alike need to recognise that phone conversations represent their own challenges to business communication.
We take a look at two ways to improve your skills for your next teleconference call.
Take it in turns
In face to face communication, people converse in a flowing, overlapping style. One person may begin a sentence, only to have the other finish it, and we can tell when the other person has something they're trying to say.
Across the phone, it's important to consider waiting for the other party to finish their train of thought, as overlapping sentences can often be hard to make out over the phone and you may be continuously asking the other party to repeat themselves. This can in turn lead to frustration, so it's best to keep things simple and wait your turn.
Without meaning to, often times we can miss out on what the other person is saying because we are too preoccupied thinking up our own response.
As we don't have the same visual cues to go off, without our full concentration, you may miss an emotional nuance, such as discontent, which can lead to confusion for both parties. By listening effectively, we can save time and be more direct and professional in our phone communication. You can take a look at our better communication post for more tips on active listening.
Pausing before you reply is also a good way of indicating to the other person that you've heard what they've said, rather than ploughing over their ideas with your own as soon as they stop to take a breath.
According to Livestrong's Erica Roth, small comments like "I see" and "OK" are good to add in – this is especially true if the other party is speaking for a long time. "Acknowledge a comment every now and then," Roth says, "so your caller knows you are listening, and have not just tuned them out."
However, be careful not to overdo it, or the other speaker may think you're just churning out mindless responses without paying attention.