Learn something new every day
More Info... by email
Business phone etiquette is not especially complicated, though it is certainly important, and many of the rules that apply to proper phone etiquette for personal calls can apply to business calls. There are, however, certain exceptions and someone should not typically demonstrate the familiarity on a business call that he or she might show while talking to friends. In general, someone should speak clearly into the receiver, be polite while on the phone, and also thank the other person for their time at the end of a call when appropriate. Business phone etiquette also typically takes the roles of each person on the phone into consideration as well, since an employer during a call may have different obligations than an employee.
There are not necessarily any hard and fast rules to cover every element of business phone etiquette, but there are some general guidelines that can be considered while on a business call. Many of these tips, however, depend a great deal on the roles of each person on a phone call. For example, if someone is calling to talk to a prospective employer about a job interview or is speaking to his or her boss, then there are different power roles in place. One person is in a subordinate position to the other and should be especially careful to remain respectful and polite during the call.
The person in a position of power during a business phone call may not be as beholden to observe aspects of business phone etiquette, though it is commonly considered polite to do so. Politeness, in general, is a basic aspect of business phone etiquette and someone making a business call should be sure to remain polite and respectful toward the other person. Someone calling another person for a business call should also introduce himself or herself, whether a brief identifier for someone calling another person he or she is familiar with, or a more formal introduction for an initial call.
Proper business phone etiquette also typically includes one person thanking the other for his or her time at the end of a call, again often dictated by the power positions of each person on the call. A good general guideline is for someone to try to treat another person as he or she would like to be treated during a phone call. Someone should typically not put another person on hold during an important business phone call since this can indicate that something else is more important than the business being conducted over the phone. Speaking clearly is also an important aspect of business phone etiquette to avoid miscommunications, and is especially vital for conference calls or calls made over a speaker phone.
There are places where business phone etiquette is obviously a thing of the past. This is probably because many people have not been trained in using proper etiquette of any kind, let alone on the phone at work.
Certainly, some calls are more informal than others, but basic civility is still the order of the day. It's saying, "This is the accounting office. How may I help you?" or "Thank you for holding, ma'am. I'll transfer your call now." Or, "I'm sorry you've been transferred so many times. Let me call the number and I'll stay on the line until someone answers."
You want to get under my skin? Answer my questions with "Mm-hmm" or "Uh, huh." So rude. Anyone who uses a business phone line should be trained in phone etiquette.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!