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Phone Etiquette: A Refresher Course in Courtesy

phone etiquette

Good communication and phone etiquette is incredibly important (and sometimes hard to come by) in today’s fast paced world.  Talking on the phone is one of the most common ways in which to do business and good manners can go a long way in helping to establish trust with a potential client and even landing a sale.

Here are a few things to keep in mind during your next call.

Phone Etiquette Refresher


Your ‘upset’ voice sounds completely different than your ‘happy’ voice and the latter is much more pleasant to conversate with. Even if you find yourself in a bad mood when the phone starts to ring, take a deep breath and smile.

It will make a difference to the person on the other line.

Answer the Phone Patiently

Picking up the phone with a terse, “Bob here,” or simply, “sales department” will make the caller feel immediately put off. Instead, answer with a friendly salutation and your name.

This small adjustment will start your conversation off on the right foot.

Speak Clearly and Not Too Loudly

The phone’s microphone is usually never more than a few inches from your mouth, so there is no need to raise your voice while talking.

Talking slowly and clearly is also a good idea, as is waiting to eat your lunch until after you get off the call.

Don’t Hang Up First

Have you ever been almost done with a phone call when the other person suddenly hangs up just as you say “goodb—“? This can be a turnoff and give the call a negative final impression.

Don’t be the person that rushes off the phone. Calmly sign off and then wait for the other person hang up first.

Stay on Neutral Topics

Try not to bring up politics, religion and other sensitive topics when on a call with someone you don’t know well—even if you have an inkling to their favor. For example, just because your potential client lives in San Francisco and has a newborn named Barack, don’t start in on how excited you are for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

You never know. The person might be a far right-winger and the conversation could be long gone before you could grovel enough to say how great Chris Christie would look in the White House.

Wait Your Turn

The prospect with whom you are chatting has the gift to gab and you haven’t said a peep in 20 minutes. That’s okay. Wait your turn and don’t interrupt; it’s rude.

They will have to take a breath at some point and, more likely, will realize that they’ve been hogging the conversation for too long and let you have a turn.

Voicemail: Keep Your Message Short and Slow

Think of a voicemail as a post-it note: A few words will do. No one likes long, drawn-out messages, so just include your name, company name, the reason why you are calling (in 20 words or less, if possible) and your phone number.

When saying your phone number, slow it down to turtle speed. Take breaks between numbers so the other person has time to write it down or say it twice before hanging up.

Phone [1] Photo via Shutterstock