Each month I’ll tackle a question and provide some advice for managers and millennials (and millennial managers!). I hope the advice I share is helpful for all generations.
Have a question you’ve been dying to ask? Send me an email and I will try to cover it in a future edition!
Here’s a question I often hear from Gen X and Baby Boomer managers: “Why can’t/won’t/don’t millennials talk on the phone?”
Believe it or not, April 25 was National Telephone Day, a designation that probably sounds about as quaint to millennials as National VHS Day.
We know young people looooooooove their phones (of course, these days most all of us do) and can’t stop communicating, but it seems to never be with their voices—unless they’re sending a voice text or asking Siri a question.
This can lead to a lot of consternation in the workplace when talking on the phone is a requirement of the job. And Traditionalist, Baby Boomer and Gen X professionals are baffled when a younger colleague doesn’t have basic phone skills or knowledge of “common sense” phone etiquette.
My reply is that using a phone comes naturally to us because it wasn’t long ago that a variety of daily functions had to be performed on the phone:
- Ordering pizza
- Confirming a babysitting job
- Making a flight reservation
- Ordering from a store
- Asking directions
Now, these tasks are almost exclusively completed online or via app or text. That’s why it’s possible this generation has never used the phone for any reason except to talk to peers, and may need some guidance. While it sounds silly to older generations to give a lesson in “how to use the phone,” the nuances of talking on the phone aren’t necessarily intuitive. But they are teachable.
Here are three ways you can improve millennials’ phone skills:
EXPLAIN HOW BEING A SAVVY PHONE TALKER CAN OFFER A PROFESSIONAL ADVANTAGE.
Sure, most professional situations and requests can be handled via email. But, it’s smart to point out that actually talking to someone is powerful for a number of reasons:
- You can hear tone—important when you consider how often an email or text is taken the wrong way simply because the reader misunderstood the tenor of the request or conversation.
- You save time by eliminating the back and forth inherent in scheduling an appointment or negotiating project details.
- You build relationships through small talk.
- You might find you’re more tactful on the phone; it’s easy to write inflammatory thoughts that you would be hesitant to voice.
GIVE THEM TRAINING.
If they’re not used to introducing themselves, articulating their viewpoint succinctly or even leaving a concise and coherent message, you don’t want their first phone fumbles to be while making a sales call or setting up a meeting with an important client.
Let junior colleagues listen in on your calls to get a sense of conversation flow and voice inflection. Then, have them practice in low-stakes situations, like scheduling a meeting or making a reservation.
CLUE THEM IN TO SOME BEST PRACTICE SHORTCUTS.
Most people wouldn’t think of practicing a phone call, but it can be wise to roleplay the dialogue, just as you would rehearse an in-person presentation. (Maybe you can play the part of the disinterested potential client or errant vendor to give them some pointers.)
Show them how to write a script or bullet key points to have in front of them in case they get tongue tied. And remind them that sometimes the hardest part of a delicate call is just psyching yourself up to pick up the receiver and dial.
Read the original post on Lindsey's blog.