Telephone Skills – Using Body Language

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Telephone Skills – Using Body Language

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When are YOU more comfortable talking on the phone?
You can use body language to both feel and be more confident whenever you have to make (or take) a difficult phone call. Although the person on the other end can’t see you, they sure can hear you. And they can also pick up how strong and assertive (or weak and pathetic!!) you are on the phone talking.
So, when ARE you more comfortable?
1. On a mobile phone with an earpiece where you can wander around at will, gesture with your hands, look around as you talk, or
2. Sitting at a desk in a small office all by yourself holding the handpiece to your ear?
If you’re like most other people, you chose the first option.
We regularly run seminars and workshops around the country on Collection Skills and Procedures. In most seminars I illustrate that it’s much easier to talk and be natural (and, therefore, more assertive and less timid) when you can stand up when you’re on the phone in a two-part role-play. This is the role play …
This is how to see for yourself what a dramatic impact body language can have on the way we talk and how assertive we can be. Try this role-play and see for yourself.
Get a few people together. Don’t tell anyone what this role-play is about. To give this role-play more impact and to best illustrate this point, select:
► A tall, mean and tough looking male as the client, and
► A short (should I say “height-challenged”?), frail and timid-looking female as the creditor.
Make sure that the man that you pick does not have a back problem or is overweight and that the lady you pick is not overweight, pregnant and, most definitely, NOT wearing a short skirt.
Get them to stand up, facing each other, about two metres apart. Don’t tell them that this is a two-part role-play. Simply ask the lady (the creditor, the person chasing payment) to phone the man (the client, the person who owes the money) to ask him, using whatever language she likes (within reason) to pay a fictional debt of, say, $1,000.
Just before they start, interrupt them and ask the lady to kneel on the floor. Surprisingly enough, if you ask her in the right way, she will!
All you have to do now is watch and listen.
When you feel that you’ve heard and seen enough to be a good sample of what she sounds like in this very weak position – kneeling – thank them both and ask the lady to stand.
At this point, while they’re still looking a little stunned, standing up and wondering what point it is exactly that everyone is supposed to have just seen, get the man to lie down on the floor!! Yes, you read that correctly. Get the guy to lie on the floor. On his back, legs down flat, heels on the floor, looking up at the ceiling.
Now, get a fixed-leg chair (not a swivel chair, or one on wheels) and place the two front legs on either side of the man’s knees so that the back legs are on either side of his feet.
Ask the woman to stand on the chair so that she can see his face when she looks down.
Now, get them to the entire role-play all over again. Just as if they hadn’t done it before. All over. Get them to pretend that the last role-play didn’t happen.
Again, all you have to do now is watch and listen.
If you try this and followed the instructions above, you will notice three distinct differences between the first part and the second.
1. The woman’s language is much stronger and she will sound more assertive than the first time.
2. Her body language looks more assertive. Many ladies put one of their hands, for example, on one of their hips while they wait, impatiently, for the client (the man) to reply to one of their questions!
3. Her questioning becomes more direct.
On the other hand, the man, who is now lying on the floor and may have been quite off-hand about the overdue account in part one of this role-play, becomes much more submissive. Many men put one hand behind their neck to try and feel more assertive while lying down there, but this has no effect on the woman who is now very much in control of the phone call. Why? Because she’s dominating the man in a physical sense. (For God’s sake man, she could jump!!)
This role-play works for one very simple reason. In the first part the lady is in a very submissive position (kneeling down) and the man is in a very dominant position (standing up). In the second part, the dominant positions are reversed. The woman is now in a very dominant position (standing on a chair – above the man) and the man is in a very submissive position (lying down).
Now I know that you can’t pick up the phone when you want to follow up a client with an overdue account and say,
Good Morning Mr Jones.
Would you mind lying down on the floor for a moment?
I’d like to discuss your account with you.
But you can stand up! I mean, think about it. If you’re sitting at your desk making phone calls to overdue accounts, one after another, yada yada, ho hum, ho hum and then you get a very difficult one, an aggressive client for example, you’re going to naturally sit up anyway. Nature pumps adrenalin through your body; your body language naturally changes.
So, use this natural reflex action to your advantage whenever you have to make or take a difficult phone call. Stand up, gestulate, look around, move around if you can. You’ll become much more assertive, more in control of the situation and, although the clients can’t see you, they can detect the difference.
Try it one day for yourself and see.

By | 2017-09-06T05:12:16+00:00 June 10th, 2010|techniques, telephone|3 Comments

About the Author:

Have you ever wondered why a client does business with you and then ignores your invoice like they had no intention of paying it in the first place or they treat you like their own personal line of credit, leaving YOU dangling, waiting months for their payment? Unfortunately this situation is all too common and can even be puzzling for the most experienced business owner. If you’ve ever had to handle outstanding accounts or you are just so over non-payers, then we can help. Real-world skills, solutions, tips & strategies to get more accounts paid on time, and, most importantly, how to maintain customer goodwill while keeping YOUR cash flow in the positive. You will find the blog posts helpful but to get real results, contact us by using any of the forms on this site, by email or by phone. I’ve been involved in the management of accounts for over 30 years, heard every excuse in the book, can spot a non-payer at 20 paces. Finance Companies in the 70s (systematic, tough), professional firms in the 80s (no systems, too gentle) and, since then, just about every other sort of business you can think of. I’ve written books on the topic, spoken all over the place about it and the blog in this website is my way of “giving back”. I hope you find it helpful.


  1. body language September 8, 2010 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    love your blog.

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  3. Kennedy Banda April 26, 2013 at 7:16 am - Reply

    i very much agree with your blog.From my debt collection experience,i have had that experience and it has really help me dominate the conversation with my debtors.

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