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Phone Finesse

Learn what it takes to be a smooth operator

Learn what it takes to be a smooth operator

Whatever you think of former president Bill Clinton, he wasn’t known as Slick Willie for nothing. Clinton has said he hates the nickname—and well he should, for it’s a negative spin on one of his most effective qualities: He can talk to, and usually charm, almost anyone. A master of human interaction, Clinton is well-known for using eye contact, a relaxed tone of voice, firm but friendly handshakes, and his trademark you’re-my-new-best-buddy manner to convert crowds of strangers into friends.

We could all use a little bit of Slick Willie’s ways in our own work with the public. But even Clinton might have a tough time mastering the emotional encounters animal shelter staff face: angry people making irrational challenges to shelter policy or desperate pet owners in search of lost animals. It’s doubly difficult over the phone, when the lack of eye contact makes it harder to put a human face on the babbling voice at the other end of the line.

And yet the phone call from a citizen reporting a dogfighter or a pet owner wishing to relinquish his animal is often the first contact a person makes with an animal shelter. The treatment he receives from the staffer who answers that call may determine if it will also be the last.

Read on for tips from the Clintons of the animal protection field—those brave, chatty, and cheerful folks manning the front phone lines and drawing even the crabbiest of callers into their circles of compassion.

 Read all the tips.


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