Phone Etiquette Matters, Choose Words Wisely

Published: 19th January 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th January 2015 09:54 AM   |  A+A-


A telephonic conversation, one of the most widely used tools in business communication today, leaves an impression that represents the picture of the entire organisation. Therefore, whether a front office receptionist or an Executive Secretary, one has to ensure that one’s tone and words are carefully chosen. Here are a few tips on phone etiquette:

While answering calls:

1) Try to answer the call within three rings; answering late can make the caller angry.

2) Greet politely with a good morning, afternoon, or evening, and then introduce yourself. Then add a polite line offering help, for eg — How may I help you?

3) Keep your tone soft and pleasant, and keep smiling. The smile shows through the tone and renders you friendly.

4) Ask the caller for name (May I have your name, please; or May I know who I am speaking with) and his/her purpose of calling, in an amiable tone, making the caller comfortable.

5) If the information is within your boundaries,provide it in a clear voice ensuring the words are  distinguishably spoken. Do not be too loud or soft; ensure that the caller is able to hear you.

6) Don’t speak with food or chewing gum in your mouth.

7) Keep your content crisp and precise, and to the point. Don’t play with words, and never use any slang or swear words. Your choice of words matters a lot.

8) Respond with a clear yes or no, avoiding ambiguity. If you are unable to understand the person at the other end, request for a repeat of words, (pardon please, or I beg your pardon) cordially.

9) If you need to put the call on hold, do not forget to mention so, with a request. (Could/May I place your call on hold?). However, avoid placing the call on hold for more than a few seconds as it may upset the caller.

10) Listen to the caller very attentively, grasping every bit of information. Repeat the words slowly and carefully to verify that you have heard and transcribed the message accurately.

11) Be patient and helpful especially while dealing with an irate or upset caller. Listen to the woes and then refer them to appropriate resources. Never snap at or act rude to the caller. Even if you are upset or unwell, you need to keep your tone amicable.

12) Avoid getting disturbed by any sources while on the phone. Keep your complete focus on the phone conversation and the caller. In case of a technical disturbance in the line, call back after sometime rather than continuing to speak for the sake of it.

13) At the end of the conversation don’t hang up suddenly. Ensure that the caller is done with his words and then end with a warm note of good day or nice speaking to you.

While making calls:

1) Once the call is received, identify yourself revealing your name and organisation, before proceeding to ask for the required information.

2) Keep your notepad and information at hand to avoid delay in searching.

3) In case of leaving a message, keep it short and precise to avoid trouble for the receiver at the other end.

Watch this space for tips on mobile etiquette next week.


Paramita Mishra holds a PhD in Environmental Biology, and has been associated with teaching Communicative English and Personality Development for nine years now. She can be contacted at


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp