Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Replace Businesslike With Professionally Pleasant

How Do You Look and Sound? 

The concept of sounding and looking businesslike seems as though it would be appropriate for a business setting. Unfortunately, it nearly always translates to an unfriendly facial expression and a disinterested, bored or angry tone of voice. 

Test it by looking in a mirror with a “businesslike” expression. See how robotic and cold you look? Hostile, even? Practice a phrase with what you consider to be a businesslike tone. Can you hear how curt and unwelcoming you sound? When there is no welcome in your voice, it doesn’t matter what the words are, you sound unpleasant.

Now, test yourself by smiling (not a grinning, just  smiling) and asking, with a friendly tone, “How can I help you today?” Smile while saying,  “I’m happy to be asked questions and I’ll also be happy to answer them.”

Whatever you say, say it with a sound that is encouraging and pleased to be asked for help, not discouraging and irritated that you’re being bothered. You will feel differently and sound differently. You will certainly make a better first–and lasting–impression. (This applies to your internal customers at work as well!)

July 7th, 2011 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development, Service to Customers, Clients and Coworkers | 4 comments


  1. This is what Phyllis tells us all the time, because so many emergency operators think they have to sound like robots. She started using tapes to show us that it actually makes the caller more emotional because they feel like they have to convince us that the call is serious. I never liked sounding so harsh, so I was glad to get to sound human but still professional. Going to nights in a week, which means more play time in the day time. 🙂

    Comment by denisek | July 9, 2011

  2. I tried that experiment with my daughter and she said I sounded a LOT better when I sounded less “businesslike”.

    I once had a supervisor who talked to me like we were in the military. I didn’t like it because it sounded so cold and no-nonsense, even when there was no reason for it. So, I’ll watch this from now on. Good advice.

    Comment by Marigold D. | July 9, 2011

  3. I agree that some people’s use of businesslike tones sound curt but I also don’t like the fake perky tone that some people use to answer the phone. Then, their tone completely changes when they get down to business. I answer the phone in a courteous way, with the same tone I use in all my conversations.

    Comment by J.K.M. | July 12, 2011

  4. You’re absolutely correct about how brusque a businesslike tone can sound. A technique we teach is to answer the phone or approach the client or customer as though you’re a concierge, ready to offer a variety of services. Of course, that approach has to continue after the greeting.

    Comment by Careerist | July 14, 2011

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