Telephone etiquette refers to a set of rules that apply when people make calls to others or when they are receiving a phone call. There are slightly different rules for a variety of situations. and making and receiving personal calls is not the same as making/receiving business calls. Within this set of rules, there can be additional differences, especially for business calls where companies may want callers or receivers to say certain things.
For personal calls, the caller should identify him/herself when not recognized right away. When calling a friend or relative, for instance, after the initial “Hello,” the caller should come up with a greeting and identification, such as “Hello, this is John.” Sometimes, a last name is needed if the person being called is an acquaintance or a business representative.
Etiquette says that next should come a request for something, such as speaking to someone else in the house. Variations exist on this, like “May I speak to Horatio,” or “Is Horatio available?” If Horatio is not available, it may be necessary to leave a brief message, but it should be one easy to write down. Sometimes, the only thing necessary is to leave a phone number.
Even this simple telephone etiquette takes a while to learn. It’s a good thing to teach children, as they often don’t know it, can’t identify themselves, and won’t leave any form of concrete message. Children should also be taught how to answer a phone, and all people can benefit by following some standard etiquette concepts:
- Individuals should pick up the phone promptly with a salutation like “Hello,” and not “Yeah” or “Go!”
- They should be prepared to take a message and always have pencil or pen and paper handy.
- If the call is undesired, as from a solicitor, the person should inform the caller in an even tone that there is no interest for the product or service, say goodbye, and gently hang up.
- Alternately, individuals can screen calls and let unwanted calls go to voicemail.
Business telephone etiquette is similar in many ways to home phone calls and reception, but the business should be even more vested in remaining polite, since poor phone manners can have a negative effect on the company's reputation. Calling out from a business is similar to a personal call. The person should begin with a greeting, identify himself, and identify his employer. He should then make state his business or request to speak to someone.
If a message needs to be left, it should include the nature of his business and his contact information. This isn’t always possible because, due to privacy laws, certain businesses can only talk to the person they are trying to reach. When such is the case, simply trying back later or leaving contact information may be the most a caller can do.
When receiving the business call, a businessperson should also attempt to be polite, understand the caller’s needs, and take a message if required. In both businesses and personal calls, when the requested party cannot come to the phone, it's best for the person who answers to not give a reason. The person usually shouldn't say that the unavailable person doesn't want to speak to a caller or that he or she is somewhere else — be it in the bathroom or at a doctor's appointment. A simple statement that the person isn’t available is enough.
Every phone call is an attempt at communication between two people; it’s a method for imparting and receiving information. When telephone etiquette isn’t observed, communication may be more difficult. In general, people are asked to keep their language more standard, as opposed to using slang; to be polite to each other; and to make it clear who caller and receiver are. While it may be okay from time to time to depart from etiquette, especially when calling friends, it's often best to stick to established etiquette.