Telephone Manners and Telephone Tips

by Staff - Original publish date: January 18, 2012

Good manners are good for business, while great manners can set you apart. If you're under stress or in a hurry, it's easy to let your guard down and fail to observe the basics. But if you take a deep breath before you call, good manners can actually get you the results you want - faster. Here's a rundown of some quick tips to brush up on your phone manners and phone style.

Phone strategy

  • Treat the call as if it were a meeting - have a purpose, and an agenda.
  • Decide what you'll do if someone answers other than the person you're calling. Would you prefer to leave a message, go to voice mail, or call back later?
  • If you're on a scheduled call, be at your desk at the appointed time.
  • Learn the names of the people who answer the phones at the numbers you call most frequently. Speak pleasantly to them, and if you talk to them very frequently, send them a card or gift on their birthday or over the holidays.

Do's and don'ts

  • Don't type or shuffle papers while you're on the phone - it suggests that you're not listening to the caller.
  • If you have to put the phone down, do it gently to spare your caller's ear.
  • Rid your mouth of food, gum, cough drops, or candy before talking on the phone - the receiver amplifies your noshing.
  • If you have to sneeze or cough, turn your head and cover your mouth - and the receiver.
  • Speak directly into the receiver - don't bury it in your shoulder or neck.
  • If you dial the wrong number, explain yourself and verify the phone number so you don't repeat the call. Don't hang up; that's just rude.
  • Cut down on the background noise when taking or making a call. Radios, televisions, and even computer bings and bleeps can be distracting over the phone.

Taking messages

  • Record the time and date the call came in.
  • Verify the caller's name, company name, and phone number.
  • Initialize the message, so if the person who received the message has any questions, he or she can contact you.
  • Get a short statement about the caller's intent.

Resources and related reading
Letitia Baldridge - Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette
Judith Martin - Miss Manners Guide for the Turn of the Millennium
Peggy Post - Emily Post's Etiquette
Peggy Post and Peter Post - The Etiquette Advantage in Business