While I know that most of our communication these days seems to be by email and text, I’ve noticed that phone manners have really gone downhill. Perhaps it is because of a lack of use and there are younger people coming into telemarketing and the workplace in general and they didn’t grow up with a lot of voice to voice communication but instead it is finger tip to finger tip (keyboard to keyboard.) And the generation that did grow up in a voice to voice world seems to have gotten a bit rusty.
So, since I know I’m not the only one that poor phone etiquette grates the wrong way, I want to provide a short and essential checklist for modern day phone etiquette.Are you giving bad phone?
#1 Being prepared is an integral part of being professional.
When you call, be sure you have something to take notes with rather than saying “hang on, I have to find a pen.”
#2 Know what you want to say and have a message in mind for a voice mail.
Hanging up and thinking they will call you back because they see your number is just plain silly. If you didn’t have anything to say in a message, why would I call you back?? Besides leaving me a message allows me to prepare for that return call and save us both time.
#3 Speak distinctly (articulate) and announce yourself.
Don’t make the other person guess who you are, and use your last name in case you have a popular first name. There is nothing more disconcerting than having someone say this is “Steve” and I’m either forced to guess which Steve of the many I know is calling, or ask him which one he is.
#4 Ask if the person you want to speak to has time right now to talk and let them know approximately how much time you need.
This is basic common courtesy. Just because they answered doesn’t mean they have time to talk or the focus for your particular conversation right at that moment. If they say no, then ask them to call back when they do or ask when you can call them back and do so. Don’t get offended with this, way too many people answer their phone when they shouldn’t today.
#5 Don’t call from the bathroom.
We can tell, it has a weird echo sound not to mention we can hear a lot of other sounds we’d rather not. And don’t answer in the bathroom either, it can wait, really it can.
#6 Make sure that when you call you are in a distraction free zone.
That means if you tend to call while you are driving down the highway as way to kill time, rethink that strategy, unless your car is truly quiet. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to speak with a caller competing with loud noises from wind, to fast food windows, to kids in the car, to the endless dinging of safety belts and door ajar noises.
#7 Don’t hand the phone to anyone else or transfer it without letting the caller know you are doing so. This happens too often in large companies. Just as you finish explaining something to someone, there is a click and you are transferred to someone new and have to start all over again. (The flip side of this is personal when a friend hands the phone to one of their children to talk with you, without you knowing!)Use Your Inside Voice!
#8 Use a phone voice when in public. That means that only you and your caller can hear your conversation instead of the entire Target, Walmart, Starbuck’s or airplane! Honestly, we don’t want to know your business even when you are shouting it at us. Learn what the Italians call a sotto voce, soft voice.
#9 Be appropriate in your conversation. Remember that when you are on a cell phone, everyone can see who you are and when you are loud (and most are) they can hear everything you are talking about. That means that confidential information is no longer confidential. You leave yourself open to professional gaffs as well as personal over sharing.
#10 Always close with the next step or thank you. Recapping a long call, when you can do it in brief, is a great way to reinforce the point of your call. (When you don’t have a point, don’t call.) At the very least wrapping it up with gratitude or “glad you called,” is appropriate. When there are next steps, let the caller know you will be back in touch and when, and then follow up as you agreed instead of making them chase you down.
I’m betting that you’ve had an experience or a dozen with poor phone etiquette. Please share them in the comments here, I’d love to hear from you and if you want to call, please do!