Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Telephone can waste a lot of your precious time

There are scores of time wasters that invade and undermine your productivity. One of the most troublesome is not so obvious because using it usually assumes it is a productive activity - the telephone!

Don’t Touch That Phone!

Mary Ellen Warner ©2005 All Rights Reserved

Do you make just one more phone call, when you do not have the time to do so? Do you
answer the phone, when you know that it will make you late?

Are you creating barriers to effective communication with your telephone manners? Take
immediate action to eliminate obstacles to successful communication.

This is an easy fix. Don’t touch that phone! It really is that simple.

Create an opportunity to overcome barriers to effective communication. Determine what
time you must leave to adhere to your schedule and then honor that time. Do NOT touch
that phone. Do not make just one more call. Do not answer just one more call.

What happens when you try to squeeze in just one more call? You are expecting voice
mail, but you reach a person. You must now communicate -- not just leave a brief

However, you are in a hurry so you do not adequately present your information. Or, the
person has questions for you, and you are not prepared. You have just annoyed the person
you called!

If you are frequently late for appointments, do you realize that making a phone call to
announce that you will be late is not conductive to effective communication. Remember
it is much easier to communicate with someone that you have not irritated!

What if you pick up the ringing phone when you know that you must leave or have
someone waiting? How well do you listen to the caller? Do you exchange information or
do you create more problems for yourself because of your lack of focus?

If you are thinking, “you don’t understand, I have to make or take this call”, consider
how satisfied you are with your life. Are people frequently frustrated with you? Do you
have misunderstandings caused by poor communication?

A woman in one of my workshops shared how discouraged she was because she worked
extra hours every single day. She explained that phone never stopped ringing and she
continued to answer even through her work day was finished.

Apparently, at some point each day, she would accept the fact the phone would ring all
night long and that she might never leave unless she stopped answering. Understand that
she was not staffing an emergency line!

People had come to expect her to answer after hours. She was in danger of major burnout.
What action did she take? She set a time to stop answering and honored that time. This is
a simple, but not easy, action to implement. Habits require time to change!

Normal hours ended at five o’clock but she frequently worked past seven every day. She
started off by deciding that she would stop answering the phone at six-thirty. When she
was comfortable with that, she moved the time back to six, then five-thirty and eventually
five o’clock.

Change of behavior improved her communication with customers. It became easier to
listen when she was not upset about the late calls. This change also improved the quality
of her personal life since she was not so exasperated with her professional life.

What are you going to do today to establish your telephone policy? What steps are you
taking to overcome barriers to effective communication?

Mary Ellen Warner, MSA, DTM is a speaker, author and coach who works with people to
overcome barriers to effective communication. Learn more about Mary Ellen at or contact her at

Greg Cryns
Nursing Programs Online - a great career

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