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In a world that has now been taken over by e-mails, social media and chats, talking over the phone seems to be outdated – but it is still important today. In fact, many people still prefer to hold a conversation over the phone, especially for business, making telephone etiquette as important today as it was since its invention.
Importance of Telephone Etiquette
Etiquette, in general, is rules or customs that one must follow in a given situation, such as in a professional setting. So what is telephone etiquette? This simply refers to the rules that people need to follow when talking on the phone. Knowing the right way to communicate with someone over the phone is very important because it is what will either make or break the relationship that you want to nurture with others.
Phone Etiquette: Helpful Tips for Better Conversation
Here are some useful tips on how to speak on the phone professionally:
1. Proper Greeting
When you begin a call, it is very important to start with a proper greeting.
Tip: Greet the person with a “good morning” or refer to whatever time of day it is. This is a very polite and professional way of starting a conversation.
2. Introduce Yourself
Whether you are answering the phone or making a call, always introduce yourself so that the person on the line knows who they are speaking with.
Tip: When answering your office line, greet and then state your name. “Good morning. HR Department, John Doe speaking.” If you are answering a call on your cell phone, simply open with, “Hello, John Doe speaking.” When placing the call, open like so: “Good morning. This is John Doe calling from ABC. May I speak with Miss Mary Jane please?”
3. Be Clear
Always speak clearly and do not rush through your sentences.
Tip: Do not use big words and always keep things short and sweet. Pronounce your words clearly for better communication.
4. The Purpose
When placing a professional call, it can be helpful to think about what you want to say before you place a call so that there is no confusion.
Tip: Note down the subject you want to discuss as well as any questions you have. If the call goes to voicemail or the answering machine, ensure to leave the subject of your call in your message as well as your contact details.
5. No Interruptions
When you are on the phone, the person you are speaking to takes priority over others. It is rude to try and respond to someone near you when you are on the phone.
Tip: If the situation cannot be helped and you need to interrupt your conversation, you should say, “Please excuse me. I will be right back.” When you return to the conversation, say, “Thank you for your patience.”
6. Stick to the Timeline
When you begin a conversation with someone, it is important to ask if they are busy and have enough time to speak with you.
Tip: If the person asks you to call back, inquire about a more appropriate time to call. However, if the person tells you they have ten minutes, for example, make sure that your conversation is within the time given. This shows that you have respect for the other person’s time.
7. Keep Your Phone on Silent in Appropriate Situations
When attending a meeting or going to a restaurant or a movie theatre, the basic mobile phone etiquette is to turn it off or to keep it on silent. This is to avoid disturbing others by your ringing phone.
Tip: If you are expecting an important call, you can keep your phone on silent or vibrate and keep it in a place you can monitor it. Always excuse yourself and leave the room before returning the call. It is also best for you to inform the caller beforehand that you will be in a place where you cannot answer the call and that you will have to call them back once you have excused yourself.
8. Avoid Using Fillers
Words such as “err” or “umm” are considered fillers and should not be used when you are on a professional call. This gives the person on the phone the impression that you are still thinking but are not willing to allow them to speak just yet.
Tip: If you need time to get back to the person, inform them that you will get back to them about a certain query or topic. This is more professional than saying “err.”
9. Be Polite And Positive
It is important to be polite and sound positive and confident during your conversation so that you do not unintentionally offend anybody. It will also give the person on the phone a better impression of you, and they will be assured that you can help them.
Tip: Smile when you are on the phone because while the person cannot see it, the tone of your voice sounds more upbeat when you smile. If you have not been able to understand what the person you are speaking to said, do not say, “what?” as this is unprofessional and rude. Rather, be more polite and say, “I beg your pardon?” or, “I’m so sorry, but I did not catch that. Do you mind repeating it please?”
10. Summarise and Close
By summarising the conversation, you are giving the other person a chance to make any changes or correct any information that needs it. Ending the call politely and pleasantly will leave them with a good impression of you.
Tip: When ending the conversation, say, “It was a pleasure speaking with you. Have a wonderful day.”
We hope these tips on the right telephone manners are helpful in improving your communication skills when on the phone.