Ah, the humble telephone.  Since its invention in the 1800s, it has remained an indispensable part of how we communicate. Despite our modern obsession with email and social media, it seems that the phone is here to stay.


If you’ve ever worked as a receptionist or in a call center, you’ll know that some people are great on the phone, and some are quite the opposite. Some people even have a real fear of the phone!

Whether you work as a frontline receptionist or just want to know how to sound more professional and confident, it’s just as important to project the right image over as it is in person.

With this in mind, we thought it would be helpful to put together some handy hints about phone etiquette. We hope by the end of this post you’ll be making and answering calls like a pro!




1. Speak clearly and cheerfully.

This is so important! Don’t forget that the other person can’t see you, so you can’t rely on facial expressions or body language as you would in person. Speaking clearly and in a pleasant voice creates instant rapport and ensures the caller gets a good impression of you and your business.


2. Moderate your volume.

If you have a tendency to talk loudly or quietly, make sure you moderate this on the phone.


3. Address the caller correctly.

Key to good phone etiquette is using correct titles and names. With people you don’t know, it’s best to stick to the politer titles of “Mr.”, “Ms.” or “Mrs.”, rather than assuming that using first names are ok.

4. Be patient and listen carefully.

Yes, it’s frustrating when a caller wants to give you their life story. But for good phone etiquette, the skill of listening is just as important as speaking. It helps to summarize what they’ve said and repeat it back to them to be sure.

5. Identify yourself correctly.

Provide your name, company and phone number, and keep voicemails brief. No one wants to have to listen to a five-minute rambling message!




1. Use slang or inappropriate language.

Whether you’re making or receiving a call, keep your language polite and professional.


2. Eat or chew gum.

An obvious one, but needless to say it’s very bad phone etiquette to make or receive calls with your mouth full!


3. Leave someone on hold forever.

We all know how infuriating this can be, especially if you’ve already been kept waiting. Always ask the caller’s permission to put them on hold, and don’t keep them waiting long without checking back- thirty seconds is a good ballpark. And always thank them for waiting.


4. Get distracted.

We know how difficult it is to focus on a phone conversation when your desk is in the middle of a busy office. But the person you’re talking to deserves your full attention- your coworker can wait until you’re done to speak with you.


5. Use the speakerphone function unless you have to.

This makes the caller feel like their call isn’t private. If you do need to use speakerphone, be sure to ask the caller’s permission and tell them who else is in the room.

In closing, telephone etiquette can be summarized in one word: COURTESY. If the caller is a potential customer and you are courteous to them, you have an excellent chance of gaining a new customer. If they are an existing customer, you’ll keep them for life!