Listening on the telephone

January 7th, 2010

I met someone recently who does a lot of telephone research and many people have had first interviews on the phone. So, how do you listen well when you can’t see the person? Some people think it should be easier to concentrate on just one channel of communication, without being distracted.

Unfortunately, many people don’t concentrate better when they are on the phone – they distract themselves by looking at their emails, or looking around them. As an alternative, make notes during the conversation, even if you don’t think you will need to keep them. And we are used to interacting with people when we see them and use the visual information to make our decisions (whether this is conscious or not).

Talk, and gesture, normally – they can’t see you, but the effect translates into your voice. Observe others on the phone and pay attention to how they sound when they sit, hunched over their desks, eyes on their pc compared to the ones sitting up, making notes and smiling and nodding throughout.

Listening is a skill – it can be developed with practice and training. Contact Sue for ideas on developing your listening skills.


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