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Office Telephone Etiquette for Phone Calls

The office phone is one of the most essential tools for conducting business. Yet many employees do not know the basics of telephone etiquette.

Because callers cannot read your facial expressions, you must convey all information by tone of voice and verbal expression.


Office Telephone Etiquette


Identify Yourself

This seems obvious, but many callers get so wrapped up in their business agenda, that they often forget this basic courtesy.

Regina M. Robo of Salary.com advises, “When you are connected with the person, state the purpose of your call and then be sure to ask if you are calling at a convenient time.”


Just the Facts

Keep your conversation brief and to the point. There is nothing wrong with a pleasantry such as “How are you?” but keep focused and keep it simple.

Try to avoid long back stories or explanations and be direct about what you need. There’s nothing more annoying than someone who talks for minutes without getting to the point.


Watch Your Tone

It’s hard to know what your voice truly sounds like. Leave yourself a voicemail if you’re not sure what yours sounds like. You may be surprised when it’s played back. If you feel exasperated and annoyed, chances are the person on the other end of the call will be aware of that.

Don’t sigh or repeatedly utter phrases like “uh huh” or “okay.” Try to keep your tone sincerely pleasant or at the least, neutral.


Be More Than Polite

Try caring about the person on the other end of the phone. Respect and empathy go a long way and may just reap unexpected rewards in the form of a compliment to your boss later.

According to InfotechSIUc.edu, “We build our reputation with the community we live in and serve, one phone call, one customer service experience at a time.”


Holding and Transferring Calls

If you must ask a caller to hold, SICU.edu.com advises asking, “Will you hold while I…” and waiting for the answer. After the caller is placed on hold, check back every 15 to 30 seconds to update them. As you do this, allow the caller to decide if they would like to continue to hold.

When transferring calls, ask the caller for her number in case you lose her during the transfer. Also give the caller the name and number of that person in case the call does not go through.



In their guide to telephone etiquette, SICU.edu.com recommends the following method for taking messages.

When taking a message for someone else, be sure to write down these details:

  • The caller’s name and company.
  • The caller’s name, date  and time of call.
  • Complete telephone number.
  • Reason for call.


Close Warmly

Many business phone calls can end the wrong way. If someone’s been complaining for a long time or you’re trying to get an irritated customer off the line, it’s easy to be abrupt.

Try this, “Okay, thank you for calling and letting us know. Take care now.

This tactic rarely fails because you’re expressing warmth as you end the call.


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