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Abolish the phone blockade


Here are a few helpful hints on how to get around an assistant who won’t let you speak to his/her boss.

1. Always know who you are calling.

Use company operators to find out names and accurate spelling of the person you need to connect with. Get their direct phone number or their e-mail address.

2. Phone before or after normal business hours.

An effective way to get around switchboards is to call before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. Sunday afternoons and Saturday mornings are good times to reach senior executives as well.

3. Tell the assistant the call is a “personal or technical matter.”

Don’t say the call is “just personal.” It is a personal call — it is your life. Those of you in technical fields can spout techno jargon and baffle the gatekeeper so they have to put you through.

4. He/she is busy or absent.

Speak to their replacement or someone one notch down the organizational ladder.

5. Offer to put it on voicemail.

Leave a message as to the time you will call back. When you get the assistant next time, tell them “Mr…/Mrs… is expecting my call.” Or, set up a telephone appointment.

6. Use the person’s first name: “Hi, is Bob in?”.

Even if it is the president, the gatekeeper wouldn’t share whether you asked formally or informally for the boss.

7. Use e-mail.

People can respond to e-mails from buses, airports and restaurants with their electronic devices, which makes it easier and sometimes more expedient than the phone.

Whatever mode of communication you use, be professional, not too friendly, confident, uplifting and obliging.