Where should I call now?

Here are the seventeen most important rules for telephone conversations with the class

Telephones have accompanied us for over a hundred years, but it is only the mobile ones that have revolutionised our contacts. We call each other about the smallest things, we do it at almost any time, we answer at almost any place. Although we still can’t see the other party, we approach this activity almost like a live meeting. This has its obvious advantages, but it also has a lot of disadvantages that you have to bear in mind, because you can lose a lot.

Here are the seventeen most important rules.

We call each other during the hours when we are normally available to outsiders. This is usually between 10:00 in the morning and 18:00, with a maximum of 20:00 in the evening. Exceptions will of course be pre-arranged calls. Remember also to check local hours when calling abroad.

If no one answers, wait at least 15 minutes before trying to call again. Try again after an even longer period of time. Instead of ringing several times, it’s best to text why you called and ask them to call you back instead of continuing.

When you see a missed call, call back as soon as possible. Don’t put it off until another day either. As a last resort, send a text message to let them know when you can be reached.

When you do get through, introduce yourself. By always introducing yourself at the beginning, you will save the other party the surprise.

Allow the caller to have their say. Sometimes we don’t want to take too much time, so we don’t wait for a reaction and we get straight to the point. So before you get to the point, make sure the other party is listening carefully.

When calling a new number, always ask if you have connected with the right person. Don’t get to the point until you are sure there is someone on the other end who can help you.

When the other party peels off, remember to ask if you are interrupting. Sometimes people peel away to see who is calling and why, but they don’t have time for a long chat. If this is the case, actually ask when would be a better time to call back.

Well, who should call back? It was you who wanted something, so you should call back at a later date. Only in a situation where the other party doesn’t know when they will finish what they are busy with, ask them to call you back when they are free.

It may also happen that your connection is broken for some reason. In such a situation, follow the simple rule that whoever called first calls back. Only if the right party does not call back for a long time, you can call yourself to see what is going on.

It can also happen that you inadvertently call too early or too late or at nap time, which of course you could not have foreseen. If you have actually woken up the caller, simply apologize and say that you will call back at a better time, but do not pursue the matter.

Nobody likes talking to someone they can barely hear. When you make a call, it’s up to you to create a quiet environment. Make sure your caller has no trouble hearing you. It’s a matter of respect. If you are the one on the phone, your options are limited, but still maintain sound quality or simply ask to speak at a better time.

A telephone conversation is just as private as a face-to-face conversation. So avoid having such conversations in front of witnesses, for example on a train or bus. On the other hand, if you’re making a call from a car, using a hands-free kit, and you have a passenger, let the other person know.

Private telephone conversations have a lot in common with face-to-face conversations. So it’s best not to get to the point too quickly. It’s cultural to take at least a passing interest in the other party. Ask how he or she is. Refer to previous topics. And only then move on to the matter you are calling about.
However, this rule doesn’t apply when calling about professional matters. Time is more important here.

Wishing is best done face-to-face, but of course there are times when this is not possible. Since you’ve saved time on the commute anyway, spend more time talking. Wishes can take up as little as 5% of the entire conversation, and the rest can simply be a pleasant exchange of opinions about everything and nothing.

But don’t force the conversation, and sense the moment when the caller wants to end it. If you notice that the other party is trying to close the subject and is looking for a way to slip away, allow it.

Don’t do other things during the conversation, and certainly not things that consume your attention. Giving your full attention to the interviewer is also a matter of respect.

Sometimes you have to break one of the above rules. For example, you don’t have time for introductions because your phone’s battery is about to die or there’s a lot of noise around and you can’t help it. It can happen to anyone. Start by apologizing and giving a brief explanation.

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