How to answer a phone call

Updated February 21, 2017

The way you answer the phone can make your company lose customers or can make friends and family delay calling you. An improper answer, including mumbling, using slang or answering after too many rings all speak volumes about your business or your household. Train all employees to answer the phone professionally in an office or business, and train your entire family to answer the phone politely at home.

Prepare to answer the phone as soon as you hear it ringing. Set aside any tasks and turn down any distracting background noise to give the caller your full attention.

Answer the phone by the third ring so that the caller doesn't hang up or so you don't make the caller wait.

Pick up the phone, or press the "Talk" button located on the handset to answer. Promptly greet the caller. If you're working in an office or business, use a standard greeting, such as "Thank you for calling (name of business or department). How may I help you?" If you're at home, your greeting can be more casual, a simple, but clear "Hello" will suffice. Some families answer the phone with the last name of the family followed by "residence," for example, "Smith residence." Alternatively, you can let callers know who you are immediately by answering with your first name, for example, "This is John."

Speak loudly and clearly through the greeting and throughout the phone call. Do not scream, but make sure that the caller can hear you.

Listen carefully to the caller so you can direct the call to the correct person or answer the caller's question. If you have trouble hearing the caller, adjust the volume on your phone to turn it up, or if the caller is loud, turn the handset volume down.


If you're answering the phone for work, follow all protocols set by your company for answering the phone. If your company doesn't have an official protocol, ask an immediate supervisor if the phone should be answered with a standard greeting.

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About the Author

Kristine Brite worked as a community journalist and public relations specialist before moving onto freelance writing. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Indiana University and has six years of professional writing experience.