Phone Manners: Business Etiquette is Not Dead

Phone Manners: Business Etiquette is Not DeadGood manners will open doors that the best education cannot. – Clarence Thomas

Daily, we’re all swept along in a river of technological change and have to constantly learn new skills to keep our head above water. Sometimes, we must let go of the old to embrace the new. But there are some things that should remain – like manners. Not surprisingly, there are even apps for etiquette.

If you haven’t downloaded the app on phone manners, this post is for you. I’ve noticed a trend regarding phone calls and the use of voice mail that needs to be addressed.

The business etiquette for phone communication is to leave a voice mail if the person you are trying to reach has this feature set up. The message should be brief. State your name, phone number and the nature of the phone call. After you have left one voice mail, it’s not necessary to keep repeating the same message when you call back. They already know you are trying to reach them. Because most phones have caller ID, I see a trend with people making business calls and foregoing the message, particularly if the caller knows they have dialed a cell phone.

It is folly to expect a return call if you fail to leave a message. When communicating with your family and friends, if that is understood as a “tag” and means it is their turn to call back, that’s your business. But do not take this habit to work with you.

Furthermore, it is poor manners to dial a number when you see a missed call you don’t recognize and say, “Did you call me?” If you are going to do that, state who you are and let them know why you are calling first before you ask who THEY are. If I see a missed call from a client on my phone, if they do not leave a message, I don’t call back. They may have pocket-dialed me by mistake. I have no way of knowing and it’s not my job to track them down if I don’t even know they are intentionally trying to reach me.

True confession – I was drilled in phone etiquette when I was very young. My dad was a high school principal and held a politically-charged position in a local organization. He often received phone calls at home that needed to be screened. We had to answer correctly and then politely find out who was calling and the nature of the call before putting my dad on the line. Maybe this early training is why I am mystified by the complete lack of phone manners I see on a daily basis.

Technology has made staying connected easier than ever before. Be careful not to let that dull your ability to treat your business communications with respect and a certain degree of formality unless otherwise agreed upon. Business etiquette is not dead and never will be.

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