Engaging_Phone_Manner_Feature.pngI’ve never been a phone person. It seems like every time I try to take an important call, I end up sounding something like Hans Solo in Star Wars Episode IV:

But the fact is, whether you are on the phone constantly for your job, or you only pick up the odd call here and there, proper phone manner is absolutely essential. In fact, your phone demeanor can make or break a deal or business relationship in seconds.

Perfecting the art of a successful phone call can take practice, but it’s more than worth it in the long haul. Here are four tips to help you make the best of every phone conversation.

1. Introduce yourself

Your Introduction is the first thing the other person will hear – and it can shape the whole tone of the conversation. Some people can get flustered and skip over niceties, which can be detrimental. Saying “Hello, good morning it’s X here” seems obvious, but you’d be surprised just how many people forget to break the ice with a quick intro.

Some small talk (but not nervous waffling) can be an excellent way to ease into the real topic of the call, without it feeling rushed or curt.

2. Be confident

Confidence is everything – it can make a person seem a lot more competent than they really are, or even better, it can properly express the level of expertise one has. The opposite, a timid phone speaker, may not be able to sufficiently convey his or her expertise and enthusiasm for the topic at hand.

Many people feel confident on the phone, and therefore believe they sound so – but this is not always true. Listening to your voice played back is a good way to get an idea of what you sound like from the other end of a conversation. Continue to refer to voice playbacks until you have the confident sounding tone you most wish to present.

3. Be assertive

Assertiveness and confidence go hand in hand – to be assertive is to take charge, and commandeer the call in a polite way. The Mayo Clinic describes assertiveness as the opposite of being passive, and while passivity can have its place when quelling conflict, it will often be observed by many as frailty.

While there is a fine line between appearing polite and easygoing as well as taking charge, it is a skill worth practicing as it can make all the difference in conducting a successful phone call.

The most assertive step you can take towards a successful call is actually making it. Darlene Price, author of Conversations That Get Results, a book about perfecting communications, told Forbes that concerns about how a call might go can stop some people from making it altogether.

“The fear, uncertainty, and doubt of what to say and how to say it prevents many would-be callers from smiling and dialing,” said Ms. Price.

Ms. Price recommends paying attention during a call, to avoid sounding bored.

“Since listeners cannot see you, it’s tempting to covertly catch up on other tasks while attempting to carry on a telephone meeting. Not only are you likely to miss critical points in the conversation, the listeners can hear awkward pauses and a tone of distraction in your voice,” she said.

4. Take your turn

It is so important to take your turn, because it lets the other person know you are listening, and you are interested in what they have to say. This has a follow on-effect, making the person feel positive about themselves and the phone call. As a consequence of these good feelings they will be more open to what you have to say.

Reciprocal goodwill is an ideal platform to make a sale, conduct a deal or make a new business contact – and it will set all future calls on a constructive foot with the same positive feeling.