Bridge Insights

Five Rules of Professional Phone Call Etiquette

Apr 9, 2020

Whether it is in our personal lives or our professional ones, we use our phones for everything. What most people don’t realize, however, is that the role the phone plays in the business world is a little different than it is in private or personal communication.

Many professionals think, “Hey, a phone is a phone” and don’t realize the rules of etiquette change when you are operating inside the corporate world. In actuality, many of the rules from the personal phone playbook are considered rude or unprofessional, and, in some cases, if you are not using proper phone etiquette on a professional call, you can literally talk yourself out of a potential opportunity.

Here are 5 rules of proper phone etiquette you can use to ace your next professional call with ease:

1. The Golden Rule of 3…Rings

Letting the phone ring three times before picking it up is the widely accepted standard of phone etiquette. Three rings is the happy medium that allows you enough time to take a breath and prepare to pick up the phone without being inconsiderate of the time of the person on the other end.

This rule has its roots in older phone technology as well as human psychology, but the bottom line is that the opinion of your call will change dramatically between the third and fourth ring, so you want to pick up before the fourth ring happens.

[blockquotes color=”highlight” quote=”yes”]Many professionals think, “Hey, a phone is a phone” and don’t realize the rules of etiquette change when you are operating inside the corporate world. [/blockquotes]

2. Introduce Yourself Immediately

Smart phones have truly changed the way we communicate in our personal lives, but in the workplace, not everyone is using a phone that is quite as smart as yours. In these situations, answering the phone with a simple “Hey” or “Hello” won’t cut it. When you answer a phone in this manner, not only do you risk coming across as overly casual, but it could be confusing to the person on the other end of the line.

We all are guilty of transposing numbers on occasion, so by answering incoming calls by stating your name, not only do you communicate an air of professionalism, but you are also being considerate to the person doing the dialing. Even if it is a number you know, it’s not a bad idea to build up the habit of answering, “Good Morning. This is Joe.”

3. In Order to Pick up the Phone, You Need to Put the Sandwich Down!

Even though this seems like a no-brainer, clear speech gets taken for granted more often than you would think. When you are speaking with a person face-to-face, you have the advantage of visual information from facial expressions, hand gestures, and even watching their lips move; all this added information helps you fill in some of the gaps that auditory information alone would miss or muddy.

When you are having a conversation on the phone, you lose these added visual cues, so it becomes critical that the auditory information is crystal clear.

If you sound like you just woke up or are in the middle of eating something, this can cause the caller to ask you to repeat yourself multiple times, which never makes for a professional phone call.

4. Language!

Using, swear words, slang, or overly common language lets the other person know that you are not taking their time or what they have to say seriously.  If you speak clearly and professionally throughout your conversation, you will not have to worry about appearing inconsiderate or disrespectful –intentionally or unintentionally.

5. Be an Active Listener

Because of the lack of visual information when having a conversation over the phone, it is easy to forget that they are just as much about talking as they are about listening.

Remain positive, polite and fully engaged, and don’t interrupt people when they are speaking (or worse, give the impression that their call is interrupting something else).

Even if you are not interested in the subject of the call, it is important not to be dismissive or rude. Your relationship with your colleagues does not exist in a vacuum, so it is important not to burn any bridges you may need to walk across in the future.

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Bringing It All Together

Whether you are expecting a call or are the one making the call, how you conduct yourself while on the phone is extremely important. Every call you have may be a little different, but they should always be professional.  By following these simple tips on proper phone etiquette, you can be sure to have your next phone call with confidence.