In particular, I’m trying to sound happier when I answer the phone. I’ve gotten in the bad habit of grunting an indistinct “Hello,” without even taking my eyes off the computer screen, quite rude.
So these days, I’m working to put a pleased tone in my voice—especially when I see the Big Man’s name flash on the phone display. I always actually do get a flash of happiness when I see his name, and I’m trying to let that show.
Why does it matter how I answer the phone? First of all, I know I should “act as I want to feel”; by sounding happy and friendly, I’m more likely to feel happy and friendly.
Also, as Daniel Goleman points out in his book Emotional Intelligence, emotions are highly contagious. Studies show that we unconsciously imitate emotions we see others display, and so people spread their moods to others—whether good moods or bad moods.
So answering the phone with a “I’m happy to talk to you!” voice instead of a “You’re interrupting me!” voice gives other people a boost.
Now, why is this so hard to do, when it’s really just plain good manners? It really takes a lot of effort. But I’m trying: I know that pumping up the enthusiasm in my voice will make me feel happier (because the way we act affects the way we feel) and will make other people feel happier too (because of emotional contagion).