ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Phone Etiquette for Leaving Messages in Business

Updated on February 15, 2019
heidithorne profile image

Heidi Thorne is an author and business speaker specializing in sales and marketing topics for coaches, consultants, and solopreneurs.


I have to confess that I really hate getting certain types of phone calls. More specifically, I hate getting this type of call:

Hi, this is _______ from ______, call me at ____ when you get a chance. Bye.

It's bad enough when you get those types of calls from family and friends or when those two blanks are filled with a person's name and company that you recognize. It's worse when you have no idea who the person or company is.

And one thing is guaranteed. I will NOT be calling this person back. These calls violate principles of good business phone etiquette. Let's see how...

The 5 Biggest Problems with Cryptic Callers

So what's wrong with that message? It's...

  1. Presumptuous. Unless you have a continuing relationship going on, to leave a message like that above presumes a relationship that may not exist.
  2. Non-Commital. In their defense, people who leave messages like this may be doing so because they were told to do so by someone else. They're just going through the motions and don't really care if you do or don't call back. But they've been able to check off some boxes on a To Do list.
  3. Fearful. Sometimes when people just leave a "call me" message, they have some information or a request that they feel will not be well received. So if you don't answer right away, they'll just leave their contact information to lull themselves into feeling good about themselves. They "tried."
  4. Manipulative. The worst case instance of this is when the caller knows that when the person called sees his name or where he is from, it will automatically bring up either curiosity or be troubling, almost guaranteeing a call back. I've received just this type of call from a very large business rating organization (who I won't name here) some years ago. The first time it happened, I was disturbed. What could they be calling about? Did I get reported for something? (It was hard for me to imagine any of my customers going that route.) So I called back (and, of course, played voicemail tag for a couple days). Why did they call? They had run across one of my websites and wanted to sell me membership in their organization for several hundred dollars. Unbelievable! I have ignored all subsequent calls from this organization.
  5. "We've Got to Talk." Ugh! If the tone used when a significant other, parent, friend, colleague, vendor or client suggests "we've got to talk," the possibilities of what's wrong will run rampant through the head of the person being called. It's a variation on the manipulative behavior just discussed, but this one packs an additional emotional wallop.

"Call Me" Phone Etiquette

Are there going to be situations where you need to leave a "call me" message for someone? Sure. But there's a way to do it to encourage people to return your calls by making it a safe communicating zone.

Here's a simple script to try:

Hi, this is _____ from _____ and my number is ____. I'm calling about _____. Again, this is ____ from _____. The best time to reach me is _____ and my number is _____. Thanks much!

The most important part of this is the I'm calling about____. Even if it's something tough that needs to be addressed, at least the person being called knows why you're connecting and they'll be better prepared to discuss the issue.

Also notice that the name and phone number are said twice. Why? When someone is listening to a phone message, they may miss the number when it's first said or may get only part of it. Stating it again at the end makes it easy for them to get your number by listening to the message only once. So you're not wasting their time which will be appreciated.

One other tip following up on the last point: Speak clearly. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to catch a phone number that's garbled. Granted, with the rise of Caller ID and smartphones which display callers' numbers, some of this isn't as big of a deal as it once was. However, if you're calling someone from an alternate phone line that you don't want the person to use to connect, indicating the best number to reach you is still a best practice to follow.

Another important segment of the message is the The best time to reach me is___. This helps cut down on the phone tag. Contrast this with the first bad example in this article. The caller said to call "when you get a chance." Guess what, if I receive the message, I may never get a chance to call back. Offering an ideal time to chat can help increase the chances that you'll connect.

The Call Back

Just for grins, I actually called back on one of these messages recently. What did the caller want? To pick my brain. Guess I could have predicted that.

Had an encounter with a cryptic caller? Would love to hear your story in Comments.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 Heidi Thorne


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)