Do you have a ‘phone voice’? Whether you purposely change your accent, or it happens subconsciously, plenty of us admit that we alter the way we speak when we answer or make a call. In fact, almost half of British people (44%) say they feel self-conscious about the way they sound at work, with 27% stating this insecurity is heightened when they have to talk on the phone.
But why are we so concerned? We spoke with Consultant Psychologist and Clinic Director Dr. Elena Touroni from The Chelsea Psychology Clinic, who shed some light on the situation:
“It is important to understand what connotations (conscious or subconscious) the individual thinks about their voice if they are actively changing their accent.
“Do they find it embarrassing, indicative of their class, education or race? Or perhaps they feel it makes them stick out from everyone else. It is highly likely that someone who changes their accent is trying to avoid judgement from other people. This is a form of impression management strategy, to make them sound more professional, educated or of a higher class for example.”
And it appears, from our survey, that Londoners are the most likely to modify their accent. 35% admit to doing it, while workers from Birmingham are the least likely to adapt their accent while in the office or on a call.
The problem is, your accent really isn’t the key to creating a great first impression. You can sound professional, and show that you’re great at your job, with a voice that’s 100% yours. Our very own Mark Pearcy puts it perfectly, highlighting just how great diversity is:
“The variety of regional and international voices is one of the things that makes our country great. It’s a shame that so many people feel like they have to change their accents in the workplace. Our accents make us who we are, so let’s be as proud of our voices at work as we are at home!”
So, instead of changing our accents, let’s become more mindful of the overall tone of voice we use and the words we say and/or write. Below you’ll find some fantastic great advice for keeping it professional between the hours of 9 and 5 in different situations, whether that’s over the phone or via email.
Typos, emojis and other email faux pas
Sending an email can be tricky business, whether the recipient is a colleague, your boss or even the CEO of an important client’s company. There are so many things that can go wrong, so it’s vital to double check every word you type – and the tone of voice you’re using.
Even if you’re having a busy day, taking the time to re-read your email before you hastily hit the send button can make all the difference. From typos to sending emails to the wrong recipient, everyone’s heard of one email disaster or another that’s ended badly thanks to hasty typing.
Finding the right tone of voice makes all the difference too, with 24% of British people admitting that the language they’ve used in an email has damaged one of their work relations. And, out of that 24%, four out of five revealed that badly worded email was sent to a senior member of staff.
Being overly informal, agitated or even using things like emojis or kisses in an email are just a handful of factors that could damage the tone of your email. Almost half of British people (48%) find emojis and signing emails with kisses unprofessional – a huge faux pas – so avoid them at all costs.
Speaking to colleagues
When it comes to talking to your colleagues, finding the right tone of voice can be tricky. If you’ve developed a friendship over time, it may feel natural to speak in an extremely informal tone – but everyone should remember who they’re addressing, and in what context.
If you’re discussing anything work-related, avoid being overly relaxed. It’s easy to fall into the trap of speaking to others in a casual manner if you get on well, but errors are made when the situation involves important work matters, or when other staff members and clients are included in the conversation.
So, if you’re on a group call or looped into an email with others, don’t forget to actively make sure you’re keeping things professional.
Addressing clients and customers
As you’d expect, speaking to a client or a customer requires a much more formal tone of voice.
Avoid colloquialisms, adopt a positive tone, be enthusiastic and make sure you’re as helpful as possible. And, if you’re not the right person for the job, don’t be afraid to ask them to wait for a moment while you pass them over to a colleague who is more knowledgeable – it’s much better to be honest instead of struggling to satisfy their questions.
Depending on your line of work, you may need to address complaints from customers and clients. Two different approaches are required here, and you should actively switch your tone of voice depending on the situation.
Complaints are delicate matters, as you’re going to be dealing with an unhappy and unsatisfied customer from the start. Keep things formal, be as helpful and approachable as possible and – even if customers start using confrontation language – remain polite and level-headed. Assuring the customer that you’re doing all you can to help them resolve their issue throughout the process is one of the best things you can do.
Here at 4Com, we help over 10,000 UK businesses keep in touch with their customers and clients with our fantastic telecommunications services. Whatever you need, we’ll be here to help – so don’t be afraid to get in touch.