Phone Etiquette

Cell phones are great but there are times when they can be too much of a good thing. This page has a few of my thoughts on proper phone etiquette that I think are worth sharing.  There is nothing to say that you have to embrace these tips, but I also strongly believe it is worthwhile considering what the implications might be of demonstrating poor etiquette!

Ringer Off

If at all possible, try to leave your ringer off and your phone on vibrate. Most men I know have their phones on their belts or in their pockets and quite often it is easier to respond to a vibrate signal than an audio one because at least you know it's your phone that has the incoming call!

This is not a must of course, but with everyone carrying a cell phone these days, the constant ringing of phones can be a bit trying. (Sort of like working in a clock shop at noon!)

Call Waiting

Save yourself some money by declining this service. It is hard to imagine something as rude as putting one caller on hold so that you can take another call. Save your credibility and self respect and don't allow yourself to be put on "hold" nor ask someone else to suffer the same fate!

Answering When In Conversation

This is no different than the call waiting scenario above except this time you get to ignore the person you are face to face with! Again - don't do this. It is extraordinarily rude for anyone to answer the phone while in conversation with someone else. If you are expecting a call from a family member or from work, then tell the individual you are speaking with that you are expecting a call. This makes is somewhat more acceptable.

Remember the person you are speaking with is giving you their attention (or they should be) so you should respond with an equal amount of attention.


These are a great idea and yet some people have taken them a bit far and now give preferential response to whomever has found the intellectual ability to dial ten digits in sequence. What a high standard! This feeds directly into number 3 above but is made all the worse when you are speaking with someone and all of a sudden they start having a different conversation while standing right in front of you. If you are in a meeting or speaking with someone, take the earpiece off!

Answering Properly

The other day I called a business and the phone was answered with one word, "Yeah?". I almost apologised for calling an wrong number but being polite I asked if this was indeed the case. To my amazement, I had dialed the correct number and I had reached the individual I wanted to speak with. Needless to say, I didn't have a great first impression!

It would have been completely positive, had the gentleman answered, "Hello, ABC Corporation, John Smith speaking" but that wasn't the case. Whenever you answer a business call, at a minimum you should identify yourself and preferably your organization as well. When answering a personal line, it is appropriate to answer with "Hello".

Finishing Properly

When you are finished speaking with the individual on the other end of the phone, make sure you say good-bye. Yes this seems obvious but again, I have had the experience of people just finishing their sentence and then hanging up. Okay - I guess we are done... This is rude behavior as well. A "Good-Bye" or "Thanks for calling." is all that is necessary to terminate a call with dignity and respect.


These are a few of the rules that can help build your credibility and respect with others when using the phone.

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