Have you ever thought about what kind of first impression you make on the telephone? It's been on my mind since I hung up the phone yesterday with a guy who called to interview me. I thought afterwards, "Yuck, I didn't like him..." Of course we'd never met, only exchanged words through the receiver for about 15 minutes. But it got me thinking: why didn't I like him? Would he be different face-to-face? Maybe there's a disconnect between his phone manner and his live personality. But whatever the perception versus the reality, I think phone charisma is something you should master if you want to be successful in life (and especially in love). Too often someone can get a negative impression about you from what you say (or don't say) on the phone. They can't see your body language or facial expressions, which might lead to false assumptions about what type of person you are. Whether you're chatting with someone for business or personal reasons, you should always "give good phone."
After a ten-year dating research study where I interviewed more than 1,000 single men (and women) for my new dating book, "Have Him At Hello," I've identified 8 simple tips. As a matchmaker, my perspective is obviously the dating arena, but regardless of whether you're single or married, these guidelines will help you shine on the phone to make a great first impression:
- Use a Land Line whenever possible. There's nothing more irritating than spotty reception and always saying, "What? Sorry I couldn't hear you...."
- Be aware of your tone: Always use a cheerful voice, even if something he says annoys you, or if you've had a bad day. People are drawn to an upbeat vibe.
- Give intentional responses: If the other person says something vague such as "How are you?", remember that is usually not an inquiry about your health or your mood. In the early stages of getting-to-know-you, everything you say is used to project what type of person you may be. "How are you" is actually a Rorschach test! Use that vague question to give an intentional response and share something about yourself that you deliberately want someone to know. For example:
He says, "How are you?"
You say, "I'm great! I just returned from an exhilarating run in Central Park with my best friend from college."
What does that tell him about you, even if it's subconscious? It says you are fitness oriented (you run), you're the type of person who has sustainable relationships (you've maintained a friend for 20 years since college), and you're an energetic, positive person (I'm great! The run was exhilarating!)."
Obviously don't make anything up (i.e., don't say you went running if you really didn't), but proactively think of something positive about yourself that you want the other person to know, even if he asks a vague question.
- Find a "conversation bridge": Find a bridge to help you learn more about him, based on the last thing you said ("So, what kind of exercise do YOU like?" or "How about YOU, do you have some college friends you still spend time with?"). Everyone likes talking about themselves.
- Be fun: If there's a lull in the conversation flow, try to be fun and spark some banter, which makes someone enjoy talking to you. Pick a neutral, third party topic, and make a comment (or ask a question) about it. For example, "Hey, did you happen to see Letterman last night? He did the Top Ten Reasons for things overheard waiting in line to see Avatar.... Guess what #1 was?" Asking a person to guess something is a great way to keep conversation interesting. (Avoid boring questions such as: How was work? Was the traffic bad?).
- Flatter him: Make someone feel good about himself by acting happy that he called, and be sure to give positive feedback on his conversation skills. For example, tell him, "I had a rough day at work, but your call cheered me up!" or "Oh, that's an interesting question!"
- Know when the party's over: End the conversation quickly when you sense the energy level drooping. But blame it on an external factor rather than sounding bored. For example, "Oh, I have to walk my dog now, he's scratching at the door... I'm so sorry, I was really enjoying talking to you. Let's speak again soon!"
- What Never To Do: While talking on the phone, never chew food or gum, never go to the bathroom or flush a toilet, even if you mute the phone (don't risk a mute malfunction!), and never multi-task while you're on the phone by checking email, loading the dishwasher, etc. (give someone your full attention: it makes a huge difference!)