Telephone Etiquette & Manners

Image by, courtesy of Bahador Jamshidi

Being able to communicate effectively over the phone is an extremely valuable skill to develop. The manner in which you handle yourself on telephone calls often provides people with an important first impression of you.

Therefore, you always want to remember to be polite and friendly when making and receiving phone calls.

Answering the Phone at Home

When you answer your personal phone, it is perfectly appropriate to answer with a simple and friendly "Hello," or by indicating who the caller has reached (e.g. "Jones residence, this is Ashley," or "This is Ashley"). If someone is calling your personal phone number, it is likely that they are a friend or acquaintance, but it is still important to treat them with respect. Phone interactions, whether personal or for business purposes, should be conducted just as you would hold a face-to-face interaction.

Answering the Phone at Work

If you are answering the phone at work, say the company name, your name, and offer to assist the caller ("XYZ Company, this is Ashley speaking, how may I help you?"). Remember, your voice and attitude might be the first impression the caller has of your company, so it is extremely important to be as polite and professional as you can be. If you answer the phone with a positive tone, the caller will instantly feel more comfortable and at ease, and this will reflect well on your company.

Making a Phone Call in the Morning

It is courteous not to call anyone before 9 a.m. This rule is, however, subject to your own personal judgment––many businesses are open much earlier than 9 a.m, so it is perfectly appropriate to call such places whenever they have officially begun their workday. Calling close friends and family can also be done earlier than 9 a.m. if you know the person you are calling would not be offended or disturbed in any way by your doing so.

Making a Phone Call in the Evening

Like the 9 a.m.rule, there is also a 9 p.m rule. Unless you know for sure that it would not be an issue, do not make any phone calls after 9 p.m. The evening is, for most people, personal and/or family time and calling later than 9 p.m. is being disrespectful of peoples' private time. Similarly, if you are making an evening business call, try not to call right before the end of the business day. If, for example, you know a business ends their work day at 6 p.m, don't call at 5:50 p.m.––wait until the next morning to make your call.

General Phone Etiquette Tips

Before you put someone on hold, ask them if they mind being put on hold for a minute. Before you make a phone call, remind yourself of the purpose for your call and be prepared to leave a concise, but informative, voicemail in case your call is not answered. When you call anyone, whether it be a business acquaintance or a personal friend, be considerate of the other person's time––try not to stray too much from the primary purpose for your call.