Used to be, the phone rang, and you thought, "I wonder who's calling?" Then you answered the call and found out. Now that phones vibrate instead of ring, and everyone has caller ID, it's a little different. You notice a call, you look at the incoming number or name and you make a series of decisions: maybe it's your buddy calling to make plans for the weekend and you think, Hey, Great! And you smile as you answer the call. Maybe it's your boss and you know you're in trouble for no reason, again. You think, Uh oh, and you reluctantly say Hello. Maybe it's your neighbor who has cancer. You're not sure what to think so you sigh as you answer. Maybe it's an unknown caller and you let it go to voicemail.
Something to think about: The thought you have in the moment you answer a call is going to dictate how the call is going to go. If, every time you get a call, you think it's your buddy, you're going to be jazzed, positive and upbeat when you say Hello. The caller hears that and subconsciously adjusts his or her attitude to match yours. Same as he or she does when you answer reluctantly or with a little bit of a yawn.
People mirror people. If you don't believe it, try this: next time you're walking through a crowded place (the State Fair or the Mall of America), make eye contact and then frown or scowl at five different people. Notice how these total strangers respond to you. Next, give five people a genuine, friendly smile. How do these total strangers respond?
Taking calls at work, your enthusiasm can make a real impact. People who call you might need something or they might want to give you something you need. Either way, you're probably being paid to have this interaction; isn't that something to be happy about? Answering with a smile seems fake and quirky, but do it a couple times and you'll never go back to having attitude.
Conducting a reference check recently, I was told my guy was "awesome" because he "wasn't stressful to work with." Is that all it takes? Starting every interaction with a smile can be the first step to awesome because it's less stressful for everyone around you.
Next time you have to take a call, think, "Awesome!" and then say Hello. How you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you say; how you answer the phone speaks so loudly it changes how I feel. About you.