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Telephone Etiquette

Updated on March 20, 2010

Answering the Phone

When answering the telephone, many people say 'Hello'. It is better to identify yourself by your phone number, or by your phone number and your name, e.g. '55 2211, Mrs Smith speaking'. This saves time in the case of a wrong number.

In business you would say, 'Good morning, Microsoft and Sons. Can I help you ?', and really mean it. Be as helpful as you can.

If the caller asks for someone who is not in or unavailable, take a message, and ask for the caller's name and telephone number, in case it is necessary to call him back. Have a pad and pencil handy so that you do not have to ask the caller to wait while you hunt around for something to write on. If you have to leave the caller, keep him fully informed about what you are doing. Minutes of silent waiting on the telephone can seem like hours and, in any case, the caller may prefer to ring back later.

A housekeeper or any staff in the house would answer the telephone by saying, 'Mrs Smith's residence', or 'Mr Smith's residence', whichever the case might be.

Ringing Up

When your call is social, and another member of the family whom you know answers, the greeting would be: 'Mrs Smith, this is John Brown speaking. May I speak to Mandy, please.'

If the person whom you are calling is out, it is very bad manners not to leave your name. You should ask when it would be convenient for you to call again.

Points to Remember

  • Check the number before dialing.
  • When you ring socially and are answered by a stranger, you give your name as 'Miss Mandy Smith'. Otherwise, you say, 'Mandy Smith speaking'.
  • When ringing professional or business people, you would say, 'Miss Smith speaking'.
  • Let the person who calls be the first one to end the conversation but if you are unable to stay and chat, tell the caller why and politely ask to be excused.
  • Take as much trouble over the way you telephone as over the way you dress or compose your letters, for the simple reason that you will be judged as much by your telephone manner as by your dress, your letters, or your behavior over a luncheon or a conference table.
  • Observe the common courtesies. A 'Please' or 'Thank you' in the appropriate place is a reflection of your own personality. Never try to match rudeness with rudeness.
  • The close of a telephone conversation is as important as its beginning. Abrupt endings give wrong impressions.
  • Close with a happy ending.
  • Let the caller hang up first,
  • Replace the receiver gently if it's a non-mobile phone, otherwise it's like slamming the door after the interview is over.

Avoid at all Costs

  • Never be guilty of ringing someone and saying, 'Guess who's speaking?' People like this deserve to have their call ignored, and the receiver put down smartly! A man
  • I know rang a girl and when she answered the phone and asked 'Who's speaking?' he said, 'Who is the handsomest man you know ?' He got what he deserved, for she said, 'I don't happen to know any handsome men!'
  • If possible, do not ring at meal-times. If there are babies in the house, friends should find out the most convenient time to ring.
  • If you are called in error, an answer along the lines of 'I'm sorry, but you have the wrong number' is far better than a blunt 'Wrong number'.


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