Manner Monday®: How do you address a Cell Phone cold call?

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Today’s Manner Monday tackles the awkward cold call when you’re calling someone’s cell phone for the first time.

Q: “My mom always taught me to say this when I call people, “Hello, may I please speak with Jane?”  Given that cell phones belong to one person, rather than a household, what it the best way to address someone you are calling?  I’m not referring to a friend or acquaintance, but rather a situation when you “cold call” someone.  This has actually come up several times in the context of the community volunteer group I lead.  When I ask, ‘Hello, may I please speak with Jane?’, I always detect some trepidation, as if the person is thinking, ‘Well, who do you think this is? You called my cell phone after all!’ I would love your advice!” – Thank you, Sara

A: You’re right, often the ‘old-school’ rule seems a bit awkward with technology advancements. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’m navigating the rules of new technology – I feel like ‘Maxwell Smart’ from the old TV Show, ‘Get Smart’ who was known for talking on his ‘shoe phone’. But there are a few ‘old-school’ rules though that still apply such as the 9-9 rule; don’t make calls (or send texts) before 9am or after 9pm.

Click to Tweet:  Do you feel like Maxwell Smart when making a cold call to someone’s cell phone? #MannerMonday

When I find myself making that awkward call to someone’s cell phone, I usually say, “Sara? (allowing them to confirm), Hi this is Carey Sue Vega; I’m calling in reference to…. Is this a good time?”

When someone calls my cell, and I’m not sure who it is, I answer with a perky ‘Carey Sue speaking’, which let’s the other person know they’ve correctly reached me and can then introduce herself and get the dialogue started.

Here are some tips to make phone calls in general a bit more smoothly:

Tone of voice: Without people being able to see your face and facial expressions, they will draw conclusions about your trustworthiness, reliability and confidence solely from how you sound. Your tone of voice is the only thing they have to draw on for your first impression.

  • Don’t talk too fast, or too slow
  • Don’t talk too loud, or to quiet
  • Smile while you’re talking (I know it sounds cheesy, but it makes a difference)

Background noise: Make sure you’re out of the wind, turn down the radio or TV, and keep distractions to a minimum. Focus on the phone call as if you were talking to that person face-to-face. And definitely don’t eat or drink while you’re on the phone – those noises are amplified and you’ll sound like the cookie monster to the person on the other end of the line.

And here’s a recent article for more tips on cell phone etiquette.

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Thanks for reading!
– Carey Sue

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