Speaking on the phone well is quickly becoming a lost art. Despite the importance of communicating well, phone skills are rarely taught. As a family, we’ve chosen to turn that on its head. We practice talking on the phone.
Using an old cell phone for the toddler, we call him. The phone “rings” until he puts it to his ear and says “hello” – or in the case of 18 month old K, “lo!” The adult then either begins a conversation waiting for responses at the appropriate time or asks for another family member.
Even at this young age, we teach the boys to say, “one moment please,” “she is unavailable” and “may I take a message”. I won’t say they are perfect conversationalists or that they always remember to say these things in real life but I can say this role playing makes a difference. By early preschool, each of our boys has been able to speak for five to seven minutes solid on the phone with an out of town relative. They hold up their end and even ask some questions of the other party. I also by that point trust them to answer my phone prior to bringing it to me. So, 25 years from now, I’m confident they’ll know exactly how to conduct themselves on phone interviews, client phone calls and personally.