10 phone etiquette tips for the 21st century

Photo by Getty Images, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Phones. What would we do without them?

Our entire life seems to be run by our smartphones – texts, social media, calendars and appointments, games, apps, to do lists are all housed on these handy devices.

unnamedInterestingly, the younger generation today haven’t been raised using phones as telephones – a device you actually speak into.

Smartphones are training all of us to use alternative forms of communication, to the point where a ringing phone is a cause for concern. Tweets of 140 characters, emails, text messages, SnapChat, WhatsApp and so on. And, while those over the age of 30 are “training” in this brave new world, the 20-somethings and younger have been brought up on this way of communication.

The art of talking on the telephone, not unlike the art of letter writing, has gone the way of the dodo bird.

Yet, we are finding that when it comes to communicating clearly and succinctly, avoiding miscommunication and building relationships, there is very much still a place and need for the phone call. So brushing up on our phone etiquette and skills is not such a bad idea.

Here are a few tips to remember before you pick up that phone and dial:

  1. When answering a call, be sure to speak clearly and enunciate. You don’t know how well the person on the other end hears, and it’s nothing less than frustrating to have to ask the person who answered to repeat themselves – twice.
  2. The same rule goes if you are the caller – be clear in stating who you are and whom you wish to speak with. How can you be clear? Pronounce your words clearly and don’t speak too quickly. This will allow the person on the other end to understand you easily.
  3. Watch your volume. Gone are the days when one had to speak loudly on the telephone, particularly for long distance calls, in order to be heard. In fact, a higher volume can make it harder for the caller to understand you.
  4. One person at a time. If you’re talking on the telephone, give that person your full attention and don’t respond to a person standing in front of you. The person on the phone can’t see you and won’t know whom you are addressing. If you MUST address the person in front of you, ask the person on the phone if you can place them on hold or if you can call them back. Parents are particularly prone to ignoring a caller in favor of a child who has arrived to interrupt, without saying a word to the person on the other end of the line. Don’t do that; it’s rude!
  5. Having your child answer the phone. Since grandma is probably the only person who enjoys having her calls answered by three-year-old Johnny, it’s best to put early rules in place about answering a ringing phone – when to do it, when not to and what to say if they do.
  6. Sharing your conversation. Speakerphones have their place – an office conference room for a teleconference call, for example. But, in the middle of a busy restaurant? Not so much. Beyond that, the sound quality is often a lot less clear with a speakerphone and your caller may not be able to hear you very well. TIP? If you’re using a smartphone and want to be hands-free while you talk, use a headphone with a mic on it. The sound will be much clearer for you both.
  7. Hands-free doesn’t necessarily mean you should have busy hands. One of the worst things while on the phone with someone is listening to them doing something while they are talking to you. It gives the impression the importance of the call is secondary and not worth their full attention. Typing, moving papers around, watching television, making lunch and, worse yet, eating lunch. Listening to people chew over the phone is unpleasant at best, disgusting at worst. And, dare I mention one last “don’t do while on the phone”? No going to the bathroom. If that has never happened to you, you’re lucky. Trust us on this.
  8. Leave a message. Even if it’s just to say, ‘Hi.’ Even if all you did was call someone to say hello, leave a message saying as much. It’s annoying for a person to see your number on their caller display, but no message. The person is left wondering if they should call back or if something important happened. This can be tricky, however, because millennials would rather you hung up and sent a text while a Gen-Y would prefer you left a message. Consider whom you are calling when you decide what to do about messages.
  9. For the business caller. If you’re on a conference call and you need to step away or speak with someone else, make sure to mute yourself so background noise doesn’t interrupt the call for everyone else. While it’s hard sometimes, know when to speak during a group call. Be sure to let others finish a complete thought before jumping in so you don’t drown out the rest of their statement.
  10. Don’t interrupt. Allow the person speaking to finish his or her thought or idea prior to jumping in with your point of view. A phone conversation is all about give and take. One person should not dominate the conversation unless you’re on a business call and someone is giving a verbal presentation. Allow room for discussion and exchange of ideas.

Some of these tips might seem obvious but the key to etiquette is to remember that perception is reality. If someone perceives that you are being rude, you are being rude, whether you think you are or not. If you’re not sure how to behave, simply imagine the roles reversed. Would you want someone snapping gum in your ear while you were on the line? We think not.

Submitted by Joel Schwartz of Parlor.me.

About Joel Schwartz

Joel Schwartz is the founder of Parlor.me—the first and only Social Talking Network that will soon release it’s revolutionary 4.0 update. Parlor connects people that share the same interests, want to talk about the same topic, and do so in a one-on-one private conversation.  It’s a great place to connect with friends and make new ones. Popular discussion topics include politics, sports, advice, religion, music, games, celebrities and much more. Parlor offers users the ability to connect on a deeper, more personal level than other digital social networks.

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