Body language and its place in phone shopping

City Diary

What do you get up to when you're on the phone? With the advent of the mobile phone obviously the question is more interesting than it used to be.

According to a survey by TSB (now part of Lloyds Bank) into phone shopping, nearly half (49.1 per cent) eat or cook while on the phone. Almost one in four smokes (23.5 per cent) and one in five works (18.6 per cent). About the same number (17.5 per cent) "doodle or watch TV."

Communications psychologist Guy Fielding warns that this means many people are not getting the best out of phone shopping. "Body language, confidence and persistence are as important on the phone as in the shop," he says.

Maybe so, but the TSB's accompanying leaflet sounds a bit obvious: "Before you pick up the phone, decide more or less what you want to say. Because you can't see the other person, pay particular attention to how the other person sounds."

I'll make sure to remember that one.

A joke that is doing the rounds among brokers back from the piste: How many ski instructors does it take to change a light bulb? One to change it and six to criticise every turn.

A heavyweight report published by the Ethical Investment Research Service yesterday will not result in trees in rainforests being felled, despite the fact that the report is more than 100 pages long. The back of the report, which is titled Money & Ethics, carries the blurb: "Printed with soya-based inks and recycled paper." Sounds tasty.

Scotland has always had a reputation for producing good accountants, so it is particularly fitting that the newly appointed president of the trade body for receivers - the "Society of Practitioners of Insolvency" (SPI) - is a Glaswegian.

Gordon Stewart, 40, is also, however, a lawyer, and as the overwhelming majority of receivers are accountants this could give rise to professional jealousy. Whatever their statements in public, the two professions are keen rivals in private.

Receivers, however, seem to like Mr Stewart, an insolvency partner with the solicitors Allen & Overy, despite his being a lawyer. "He's a pretty practical and commercial animal - some lawyers aren't," commented one senior receiver.

With a career spanning big cases such as Ferranti and Maxwell, Mr Stewart is even approved of by his fellow insolvency lawyers, one of whom said: "He's a good, solid, sensible operator - rather than an extravagant prima donna whizzkid."

Sad to relate, Mr Stewart has just this week slipped from the top position to number two in Allen & Overy's Fantasy Football League Table. Colleagues have dubbed him "the Keegan of Insolvency."

Remember that corporate jet that Forte owned and which became the butt of so much criticism during the recent bid for the group by Granada? To backers of the bid the Forte aircraft came to represent everything that was out of date and flabby about the eatery group.

Now it appears that Granada has decided to keep the jet -because it is "quite useful for management." So who's going to bid for Granada, then?

Forget the National Lottery. If you own or run a small business and you need a cash injection look no further than Lloyds Bank's new Grantfinding service. Lloyds is offering free IBM-compatible floppy disks to the first 3,000 who phone 0345-343434.

The idea is to get rid of "grant cowboys" who promise grants and then disappear with their advance fee. More than pounds 5bn is available from the European Union and government grants. And you don't have to watch Anthea Turner.

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