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Telephone Etiquette

My Friend Debbie     A few simple reminders will help you always sound courteous and respectful when you are speaking to others on the telephone. Etiquette is what is considered to be code for acceptable conduct. Practice these telephone manners with your children and you will be amazed at how polite they can become. Here are some basic good manners:

1) Always Identify Yourself When Calling.

     For example: "Hello, this is Debbie Harper, I was calling for Mrs. Carrie Neely, about class next week, is she available?" Don't assume the person will be able to recognize your voice. Whenever possible, tell what the call is concerning. Avoid saying, "Is she there?" Ask instead, "Is she available?" This way you won't put the person in an awkward position. If they say yes, then say, "May I speak with her please?" If they say no, she's not available at this time, say "May I leave a message for her please?" or ask "When do you think would be a better time to reach her?" Always end the call with a polite, "Thank you very much, good bye."

2) "Do you Have a Minute?"

     When you call, ask the other person if they have time to talk to you. Don't assume that it is a good time for them. Say something like, "Hi Carrie, this is Debbie, I wanted to ask you about class next week, do you have a few minutes?" Or you can ask, "Is this a good time?" Be respectful of a person's time and offer to call again later if it is not a good time for them.

3) "This is She."

     When answering the phone say: "Hello," and when they ask for your name, say, "This is she," not "This is her."

4) "She's Not Available at the Moment, May I Take a Message."

     When the caller is asking for someone who is not available, just simply state the fact, "I'm sorry, they're not available at the moment, may I take a message, or would you like to call back later?" Don't give reasons or excuses, and by all means don't give personal information or visuals, such as, "She's in the shower," or "she's getting dressed." If someone is eating, or involved in some other activity and can't take the call or would like not to be disturbed, don't feel compelled to make up a story or lie by saying, "She's not here." Simply say, "She's not available right now, may I give her a message?" This sounds polite and is truthful and respectful of the one who wishes not to be reached at the moment.

5) Speak Slowly and Clearly, and Repeat Numbers Twice.

     When leaving a message on a voicemail, always identify yourself, state when and why you are calling (the nature of your call,) and leave your number. Repeat your number twice and speak slowly and clearly. For instance: "Hi Carrie, this is Debbie, the time is about 6 o'clock on Monday and I'm calling to talk with you about class next week. Please give me a call when you get a chance, my number is 465-2885, that's 4-6-5-2-8-8-5. Thank you and I look forward to speaking with you."

6) Be Kind with Wrong Numbers:

     When you dial the wrong number, don't hang up and don't ask, "What number is this?" Ask instead, "Is this 465-2885? This way, you can check the number and dial more carefully. If a caller says what number is this? Simply say, "What number are you trying to dial?" Tell them their error, or if the number is correct, by saying something like, "I'm sorry but there is no one here by that name, you must have the wrong number." Always show patience and kindness.

7) Don't Have Distractions in the Background:

     Don't eat, have loud music on, correct children, or have other conversations going on in the room while talking on the phone. If things get unruly while you are on the phone, simply say, "May I call you back in a couple of minutes."

8) Smile When Making a Phone Call:

     A smile can be heard in your voice and creates a warm, friendly tone. Answer the phone with a smile as well. Always be gracious in your conversation without complaining, arguing or expressing negativity. Consider the well being and interest of others rather than your personal woes. Be real and positive, not negative and pessimistic.

9) Don't Allow Very Young Children to Answer the Phone:

     It may be cute to a grandparent, but more often it is frustrating to the caller trying to get the message across effectively. Be considerate of other people's time and tolerance. Generally, a school-aged child is capable of demonstrating proper phone manners.

10) Don't Say, "Who is This?"

     Only when taking a message, you may say, "May I ask who's calling, please?" and only after you have already indicated whether a person is available or not, otherwise it looks like you are screening your calls and is considered rude manners. When taking a message, you may also say, "May I ask what the call is concerning?" Take the message clearly and present it timely.

Remember: Return calls and emails as soon as possible, either that same day or the next day. Set boundaries for times when you are not available, for instance: dinner time may be a time when no calls are accepted. But always be polite, courteous and return calls or emails in a timely manner.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Debbie Reynolds Harper

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