Telephone Etiquette


Many things have changed over the years, especially in the evolving world of business. One thing has not changed though, and that is the need for proper telephone etiquette everywhere. Companies conduct a lot of their business on the phone. In our everyday life also the telephone plays an important role and telephone etiquette should not be under estimated.

Answering Calls

Correct way to answer the telephone:

The proper way to answer the telephone is "hello." On the other hand, simply answering "yes" is a curt and inappropriate response. The person making the call draws a very quick conclusion, and that is, to think of that person as cold and aloof, and hesitates to communicate readily.

At times, someone other than the head of the house will answer the telephone. If that person is asked, "May I speak to Mr. ________ please," the response should be, "one moment please, I will get him for you." If the head of household is not available the response should be, "I am sorry, Mr. _____ is not available at this time, may I take a message?" This is simply a form of good manners, whatever form it may be expressed, thoughtfulness for the feelings of others. This person may be calling to offer a new job with great pay and benefits, who knows! What would he or she think if the answer to the question, "Is Mr. _____ home please," would be an abrupt "no." This response would reflect negatively, on the actual person being called.

Incoming Calls


  1. All incoming calls should be answered in a timely manner.
  2. Always answer the phone with a cheerful “hello”, that’s the universal form of receiving the phone.
  3. Never put a caller on hold, but if you have to, be sure to check back with them every minute or so and ask if they would like to continue to hold. This lets them know that they have not been forgotten, and that you are attending to their call.
  4. Speak clearly and slowly when you answer the telephone. Do not slur or mumble your words. Speak with confidence so the person on the other end has the feeling that you know what you are doing.
  5. Never be rude to a caller, no matter how nasty they are. Always remember to handle yourself in a professional, business-like manner. This includes handling the situation in a calm, cool manner.

Outgoing Calls


  1. Same as Tip 4 above--Speak clearly and slowly when you make a call. Time may be money, but if the other party cannot understand what you are saying, then you might as well have saved your breath and not made the call at all.
  2. When calling another business, it is proper etiquette to give your name and the company's name you work for to whomever answers the telephone. Do not make them guess who it is or make them pry it out of you.
  3. If you get the wrong number, apologize to the person who answers the phone--do not just hang up. This is especially important nowadays when people have Caller ID on their phone lines. All they have to do is to check their device to find out who just rudely hung up on them.
  4. When leaving a phone message, always state your name, phone number and reason for calling. Do not stammer or stutter and use up an unreasonable amount of time.

Making Calls

Think about what time it is, when placing a call. You would not want to call when there is the possibility that person may be asleep. For example on a work morning before 7:00 a.m. would not be a good time. After 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. in the evening is not a good time, and remember to avoid calls around the usual period most people will be eating. Courtesy is expected when using the telephone just as if you are talking in person.

Give your name when the telephone is answered, before asking for the person you are requesting.
Dialing too quickly, or in inadequate lighting may be the cause of dialing a "wrong number," never just hang-up. Express your apology, letting them know you have dialed a wrong number. To avoid disturbing another person unnecessarily dial carefully and make sure you can see the dial pad.

When speaking, think of the way you sound. Make sure you enunciate your words clearly and precisely. It is embarrassing to be asked to repeat what you are saying. Your voice reflects your courtesy, since that person on the other end of the line cannot see your facial expressions your "tone of voice" will need to express this.

Tips On Telephone Etiquette

When speaking on the telephone, proper etiquette is just as important as when you meet someone in person.

  1. How you conduct yourself on the telephone tells others as much about you as face-to-face interactions.
  2. Always try to return your calls on the same day.
  3. Keep conversations to the point.
  4. Do not keep someone on hold for more than 30 seconds.
  5. Always leave your phone number if you ask for someone to call you back.
  6. Maintain a phone log to refer back to for valuable information.
  7. Listening is essential whether in person or on the phone.
  8. Make sure your voice mail and or/answering machine is working properly.

Further Tips

The following checklist will assist you in practicing good telephone etiquette and performing your telephone answering responsibilities in a professional manner.

  1. When you take a call, turn away from your computer, desk, and other work. Don’t allow other distractions to take your attention away from the caller.
  2. Always have something available to write with.
  3. Answer calls by the second or third ring.
  4. Smile when you answer your calls. Even though the caller can’t see it, they’ll hear the smile in your voice.
  5. Use a “telephone voice ” in which you control your volume and speed. Speak clearly.
  6. Be enthusiastic and respectful.
  7. Greet the caller, and identify yourself, your business, and your department.
  8. Ask the caller, “To whom am I speaking? ”
  9. Ask the caller, “How may I help you? ”
  10. Avoid unnecessary jargon and acronyms in your conversations.
  11. Use the caller’s name in your conversation.
  12. Practice good listening skills.
  13. If there is a problem, be concerned, empathetic, and apologetic.
  14. Thank the caller for calling. Ask them to call again.
  15. Never eat, drink, or chew gum while you are on a call.

Basic Good Manners, Telephone Tips:

  1. Let the telephone ring a reasonable length of time before you hang up. It is frustrating to just get to the telephone and hear a dial tone.
  2. If you dial a number that is wrong, apologize, promptly and hang-up.
  3. Calling a business at or very near closing time is to say the least un-thoughtful. When it is time to go home, after a long day, do not delay them.
  4. State your name when placing a call. The game of "guess who this is" may not play very well to a busy friend.
  5. When speaking to anyone who is working and time is of the essence, make your call informative and short.

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More by :  Dr. Anjana Maitra

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