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Modern phone etiquette

Sunday, September 27, 2015
Coaching Corner
Janice Learmond Criqui CPC, ACC. Ideal Life Associate Certified Coach

The convenience of cellphones has made it possible to talk to others anytime and anywhere, but there is still an art to using the phone properly in a professional setting. How many times has your concentration been disrupted because someone in the open office is yelling on their phone? This can be an awkward and embarrassing situation for the rest of the staff forced to listen to your conversation. Career coach Barbara Pachter outlines modern phone etiquette rules in her latest book, The Essentials Of Business Etiquette, and some of them are listed below:

Announce your name when picking up the phone

When answering your phone, use a proper greeting and announce your full name. Using your first name alone can sound too informal for every professional call, and using only your last name can sound too abrupt. The best thing to say is "Good Morning, this is Brittany Jones speaking," or "Good Morning, this is Jake Jones." 

Be aware of your speaking volume

Some people just don't know how loud they are, especially when their attention is focused on the person on the other line. People still need to be reminded to speak in a quiet, conversational voice. If the people around you are glaring at you, chances are, you need to lower your voice. You should also be aware of your surroundings because you never know who's paying attention to your conversation.

 Don't answer your phone when meeting with others

At a meeting or meal, if you answer a call, you're basically telling the person you are meeting with that someone else is more deserving of your time than they are. If you are expecting an important phone call during your meeting and there's no way you can reschedule it, then make sure to let the person you're meeting with know ahead of time.

This isn't the best scenario, but if it happens, you can say "I have to answer this," and briefly explain why before taking the call.

Don't place your phone on the table when meeting others

Pachter says this is another way of showing the person you're meeting that they're not worth your time. How does this look to the people with whom they are meeting? That the phone fanatics are so ready to drop them and connect with someone else. Even if you don't actually answer the phone, it can be distracting.

Respect quiet zones

If you're in the middle of a meeting or a conference, it's rude to have your phone go off and disrupt the speaker and everyone in the audience. The easiest fix is turning on the vibrate button on your cellphone.

Choose a normal ring

Do you really want your colleagues to hear Kanye West's latest single blasting on your cellphone while you're fumbling to silence it? Hopefully not. You need to consider what you use as a ringtone and think about how other people are going to react to it, says Pachter.

Let the other person know when you have them on speaker phone

If you must put someone on speaker phone, make sure you immediately let them know who else is in the room with you. There are many horror stories of callers not being told, and then criticising someone in the room.

Don't leave long voicemails

Saving time is one of the major reasons people give for not listening to their messages, so when they do, don't leave them long-winded ones. Make your message quick and straightforward, just like you would an email. Say what you have to say succinctly. Speak clearly, and let the person know why you called and if you leave your number, say the numbers slowly. It drives people crazy when they have to replay the message numerous times in order to get the right numbers.

There are two points that I would like to share:

Voicemail announcements

How many times have you called someone and gotten messages like: “You know what to do” or you hear voices and you think that the person has answered and you are saying hello, hello—beep..; or you hear “Ahum”, silence then beep? It is highly recommended that you put a proper message like: “You have reached John Smith, I am unavailable to take your call, please leave your name, phone number and a brief message and I will respond as soon as I can.” If you don’t want to give your name: “You have reached 999-9999, I am unavailable to take your call, please leave your name, phone number and a brief message and I will respond as soon as I can.” If you don’t have a professional voice, then have a friend do it for you.

Cellphone policy

Organisations have incorporated a cellphone policy into their policy documents. The use of cellphones have been abused while staff are at work and organisations are enforcing their policy. Security personnel in some organisations are having a challenging time accepting this policy and just don’t seem to understand that being on their phone whilst on duty can put the organisation at risk. How can security officers, whilst on duty, be vigilant and monitor their surroundings if they are constantly looking at or talking on their phone? In the event of emergencies, family and friends should be provided with the office pbx numbers so that messages can be passed to the relevant security officer to return the call, when it is convenient.

Cellphone users need to take heed of telephone etiquette especially professionals because it will make a difference as to how a caller is going to view you and whether they are going to do business with you. Opportunities are lost, all because of a lack of telephone etiquette.

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