Whether you’re at work, at home, or on your cellphone in a public place, proper phone etiquette is important. The people around you, not to mention the person on the other end of the line, will naturally make assumptions based on how well you carry yourself while speaking on the phone.
Little courtesies and habits can go a long way to ensuring you’re received as you’d like to be, so here are some best practices to keep in mind in order to ensure you have proper phone etiquette.
1. Pick up within three rings
Letting the phone ring too long is not considered proper phone etiquette. It might be jarring to immediately snatch up the phone before the first ring has even finished, but letting it ring too long is even worse. You want the person on the other end to be in a good mood when they first hear your voice and picking up somewhere around the second or third ring is the ideal time frame.
2. Always identify yourself at the beginning of a phone call
The way in which you do this will depend on the context in which you find yourself and whether you’re the one answering or placing the call. Regardless, following the initial greeting you should clearly state your name and, if you’re at work, state the department you work in and your position. If you’re the one making the call, be sure to state your full name, title, and clearly annunciate the name of the person to whom you wish to speak.
3. Speak clearly
On the topic of clear annunciation, it is imperative to speak clearly and make sure there is nothing in your surrounding environment that is negatively impacting the quality of your voice. If someone can’t hear you properly, they will quickly become irritated and the message you are trying to communicate could end up being obscured.
4. Be aware of the tone of your voice
Even though you may be in a rush, or nervous about the content of what you’re calling to discuss, it is important that you keep this anxiety out of your voice. The person on the other end will be able to up any tension and it might make you come off as pushy or aggressive.
Proper phone etiquette requires you to sound confident yet approachable. Take the time to get seated comfortably before you make the call, it will help improve your overall tone. This is especially true when you are working at call centres, where your tone is representative of the business brand.
5. Know what you’d like to discuss before placing the call
If you’re the one doing the calling, it is important to have a solid idea of what you’d like to discuss and any questions you’d like answers to. It’s a proper phone etiquette tactic to jot down some notes of the things you’d like to cover and have them visible during the call. Make it obvious early in the conversation what your intentions are and be as direct and specific as possible.
6. Avoid interruptions to the best of your ability
Remember that the person on the phone always takes precedence over whatever else might be going on in your immediate surrounding. Do not allow yourself to carry on side conversations or to get distracted by a colleague or family member.
If someone is waving at you trying to get your attention, indicate that you’re on the phone and turn away. If you absolute must interrupt the conversation for some reason, fully pause things by excusing yourself for a moment. Don’t forget to thank them for their patience when you do return to the call.
7. Be mindful of your volume
If you’re someone who tends to talk in a fairly loud tone, be aware that this effect will be heightened significantly while on the phone. The proper phone etiquette is to keep your tone even and low and don’t dramatically raise your voice to provide emphasis. Even if your immediate surrounding become louder, that is not necessarily perceptible to the person on the other end. If you raise your voice to match it, it might sound like you’re yelling at them.
8. Only use speaker phone when absolutely necessary
We all understand how convenient it is to have free use of your hands while speaking on the phone, but this is one situation where multi-tasking is probably not a good idea. The person on the other end is always able to tell they are on speaker because your voice will be become distant and have an echo. This erodes the intimacy of the conversation and makes the person you’re talking to feel that they don’t have your full attention.
9. Use proper language
Slang, excessive abbreviations and colloquialisms can often go misunderstood while you’re speaking on the phone. Whether they are missed completely or lend themselves to confusing interpretation, it is simple best to avoid them. Human and a cheerful tone are certainly welcome but try to use fairly formal language that leaves little room for ambiguity.