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Tooting the receptionist’s horn

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in Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

A receptionist may be the first person whom customers and clients see. But co-workers and managers can easily forget the pivotal and skilled role receptionists play.

As Blanche Cribbs, a receptionist with 30 years’ experience, puts it, “When you get hired as a receptionist, everyone tells you how important you are and then they forget that.”

As a receptionist, you know about more than making a good impression. Make sure you’re leveraging these two highly valued skills, which a good receptionist should have in spades:

1. Fluent reader of body language and personalities. After coming into contact with scores of people, you’ve earned the ability to size up people quickly. 

Karen Vassal, who works at a law firm in Naples, Fla., says she’s become a body language expert in her 23 years working as a receptionist, and has become even more adept at analyzing the way both employees and employers speak over the phone.

“You have to know the A-list, the B-list and the C-list clients. You have to know who employees want to see and who they can’t see at the moment,” she says.

2. Communicator. The receptionist gets the most up-to-the-minute feedback on what persistent issues need addressing. For example, “you’re the first one to know that your phone system isn’t working properly,” Cribbs says.

Communicating those issues effectively and constructively is a prized skill—tout it on your résumé and during performance reviews.

— Adapted from “Five Things You Can Learn from Your Receptionist,” Issie Lapowsky, Inc.

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