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Halifax's Phone Lady teaching young people the art of telephone talk

When you can text for everything from pizza to a dentist’s appointment, having to pick up the phone can be a bit nerve-racking.

Mary Jane Copps, a.k.a. The Phone Lady, of Halifax.

Jeff Harper/Metro

Mary Jane Copps, a.k.a. The Phone Lady, of Halifax.

When Mary Jane Copps started her business 10 years ago, she had no idea how in demand her telephone communication services training would be.

The past three years have been booming as businesses and a younger generation not used to telephone talk turn to Copps, a.k.a. The Phone Lady, for help. Like public speaking, Copps said telephone communication has its own skill set and it’s in danger of becoming a dying art.

“When you want to get into banking or whatever your career path is, you may need to be able to speak on the phone and have a conversation, and that younger generation to some degree is falling behind,” the author of The Phone Book: Essential Telephone Communication Skillsmsaid.

“Many of them are being encouraged to be entrepreneurs and I’m spending a lot of time working with start-ups, helping them talk on the phone because they have to be able to call investors and they have to be able to call prospective customers.”

Copps said young people are used to simply texting for everything from pizza delivery to making a dentist’s appointment.

This puts them at a disadvantage and has led to an increasing number of people who experience what Copps describes as phone fear, phone phobia or call reluctance.  

“This is definitely a trend and where it become s a problem is when I go to work with students at universities or at colleges who need to find work and all of a sudden roughly 86 per cent of the job market is not advertised,” she said.

“These young people are faced with two things. You have to pick up the phone to find a job and you may have to do a phone interview. I feel for them because it’s not that they can’t do it, but they are really afraid because they haven’t had to do it.”

Copps said many of her business clients have also started placing greater emphasis on telephone conversations and less on email.

“I think in business there’s a recognition that picking up the phone holds value again,” she said. “But (there’s) also a recognition on some level that talking on the phone is a skill that it isn’t an automatic given.”

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