A few years ago, I made a critical mistake of taking a conference call while watering my plants. I heard the distraction in my colleague’s voice. He was annoyed and disappointed. Without saying a word, he seemed to be saying — could you put down the hose and pay attention?
I took that lesson seriously. I was being rude.
Here are my hard and fast rules for conference calls and appointments via telephone.
- Don’t do anything with your mouth except talk. No smoking. No eating. No drinking. The telephone amplifies everything.
- If you have a desk, use it. Don’t walk around and talk — especially if you’re on a mobile device. You cut in/out.
- Don’t multitask. If you don’t have time for my call, reschedule it.
- If you work from home, don’t do chores. I can hear you wash your dishes. I can hear you when you swiffer. It’s rude. See #3.
- Don’t call me from your car. If you work in HR and don’t have a no-talking-while-driving policy, you’re a fool. Even handsfree is risky. And see #3. Multitask on your own time, not mine.
My final piece of advice? If you take two minutes to prepare before a call, you cut the call by 10 minutes and you can get back to your real life.
And I can get back to mine.