Communication is one of the most important elements of being human. The ability to express and coordinate ideas have resulted in some awe-inspiring things. The Pyramids, the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Rushmore and The Simpsons are just a few things that we, as a species, created due to our ability to plan and communicate.
And of course in the name of progress, we have refined our communication skills.
We evolved beyond signal fires to the Pony Express. We were giddy with our party lines and switchboards for a while, then we rejoiced with the private line before happily accepting cell phones and instant messages as being ubiquitous.
All this brings me to my point: As our communication has evolved, we have DEvolved.
Spell check says that isn’t even a word, but I don’t care. If it isn’t really a word, it should be.
How else can we label the phenomena that has caused us to go from being able to simultaneously light signal fires across Europe timed by only the position of the sun and stars, to not even being able to compensate for Time Tone shifts?
For my day job I connect and teach people via pre-scheduled web meetings.
Almost all of us have occasion to work in a similar arena. You’ve attended webinars for work. Or you take online classes. Conference calls are a daily part of tons of jobs.
Maybe you just Skype with your Grandma at 6:00 PM on every other Sunday.
Something. You do something.
So today, I have some tips for you.
1. Know your Time Zone.
When dealing with business calls that cross meridian lines this is essential. I am in Eastern time. If you are in California, that means noon for me is 9 AM for you. This matters. And it is easy to know your Time Zone – just check your TVGuide. If the Simpsons are on at 8, 7 Central for example, and you must tune in at 7PM to catch it, this means you are in Central time.
And just so that you know – when asked what time zone you are in, the correct answer is never anything-o’clock. Ever.
2. Know you mute function.
“*6, people, to mute your phones. This is getting out of hand. *6 to mute.”
The woman running the show must’ve said this about 12 times at the start of the insurance seminar with 100+ in the room and another 100+ listening over the phone lines. And despite that repeated admonishment, during a lull in her presentation, all 200+ of us heard this from an unmuted caller:
“…I know, but JJs fingers are bigger than his dick!”
Whoa! WHOA!! NONE of us wanted to know that.
That was a true story. So I reiterate: know your mute function.
3. Adjust your mic.
When you are wearing a headset, please bear in mind – the location of the mic is important. If it is right in front of your mouth, we can hear each inhale, exhale, lip smack, cough, swallow and yawn.
To give you some perspective – this is what we hear when you yawn into your headset:
4. Make sure you properly disengage.
If you need to be paranoid enough to lift the receiver again and check for a dial tone to be sure you have fully disengaged from a call, do it. Often headset and VoIP calls take a moment to disconnect, and during that time we can still hear you.
I’ve heard all of these and more:
“I really can’t stand her.” The feeling there is often mutual.
“Wow, she’s a bitch.” I can be, if you waste my time. If you’re not prepared, I can’t work. If I can’t work, I don’t get paid. If you do that 4 times in a row, you can bet your ass I’ll get pissy. Your lazy ass is threatening my car payment!
“Man, she’s a know it all.” Duh. That’s why I’m trying to teach you. And if you’d stop chomping on your Fritos in my ear long enough to listen, you’d learn a lot from me.
But the winner in the pretty-sure-I-wasn’t-supposed-to-hear-that realm was the client that said to his partner, “I’m dying to see her, she sounds fuckable .”
So. Yeah. Hang up. Completely.