Telephone Communication Exercises for Teens

By Sheryl Faber
Telephone skills are still necessary for effective communication.
Telephone skills are still necessary for effective communication.

Texting is on the increase, particularly for teens in the United States, while actual telephone conversations are on the decline, according to 2010 information provided by the Nielsen Company. However, it's essential that teens still know how to properly answer a phone, hold a civil conversation and end a two-way conversation effectively, as they will still need these skills in business and in their personal lives when they get older. As a parent, your concern might be that your teen will get so used to texting that she'll forget the proper phone etiquette she already learned. Role playing specific phone scenarios can help ensure that your teen knows how to communicate effectively and respectfully on the phone.

First Impressions

First impressions are important, so it's vital to use role playing to teach a teen to answer a phone properly. Explain the he needs to identify himself after a cheerful salutation such as by saying, "Hello. This is Joseph." Let him know that the tone of his voice -- both on a land line and cellphone -- is just as important as what he actually says when he answers the phone. Have your teen practice identifying himself in a friendly and respectful way while using a pleasant, positive tone. Use personal phones to role play this until he is comfortable answering the phone with the proper tone of voice and salutation. Also explain that when a telephone rings, it is up to the recipient to answer it in an expedient manner.

Holding an Effective Conversation

Teens might tend to nod their heads or use body language when engaging in conversations. This is not effective when using any type of phone. Have practice conversations with your teen to help him enunciate his words and speak clearly. If he has difficulty keeping a conversation going smoothly, teach him how to use open-ended questions to get more in-depth responses from the call recipient. Explain that an open-ended question encourages a full, meaningful answer, while a closed-ended question, encourages a short or single-word answer. Give him some examples such as by noting that if you ask someone a short-ended question like "Did you enjoy your vacation," his reply might only be "Yes," but if you pose it as an open-ended question and ask, "What did you do on your vacation?," it will likely elicit a much more detailed reply.

Role-Playing Scenarios

Using real or even toy phones, teach your teen to inquire about job openings, application statuses, or set up interviews. This will assist her in gaining employment and help her in job searches and the interview process for years to come. Write out mini scripts and practice with her until she grasps the professional phrases and concepts that will give her an extra edge in getting a coveted position. You should also role play calls with your teen to teach her how to make her own doctor and dentist appointments and to check bank account balances, as this can help enable her to live independently with confidence and skill.

In Closing

When completing a telephone conversation, teach your teen to finalize any communication in a friendly manner that is not abrupt or rude. "Have a great day" or "It was nice speaking to you" are simple but effective and congenial methods of ending a telephone conversation. Followed by a friendly "good-bye" and hanging up the phone slowly and gently will close the conversation on a positive note. Practice closing a conversation with a friend, teacher, prospective employer, receptionist at a doctor's office or any other persons with whom you teen might have a conversation in the future.