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Chapter 4. Telephone Etiquette > Making and Returning Calls

Making and Returning Calls

Whether making or returning a call for yourself or someone else, there are some basic points to remember and adhere to:

  1. Make your own calls. I know it’s prestigious to have someone else dial and hold for you, but it’s also rude. When you’re very busy, it’s acceptable to have your assistant make a call for you and say, “This is Ms. Rogers’s secretary at the Communication Connection. Ms. Rogers would like to speak with Mr. Simpson. Is he in, please?” If Mr. Simpson is in, then Ms. Rogers should be on the line when he picks up. It’s rude to make a call and say, “Hold for Ms. Rogers,” and expect the person called to wait.

  2. Return phone calls within 48 hours. If you don’t, you’re offending the person who called you as well as all the people they tell. If suppliers call and you can’t use their services, have the manners to call back and say no; don’t make them continue to try to reach you indefinitely.

  3. Call only when you have a good reason. A phone call intrudes into a busy person’s day and should not be made without a purpose.

  4. Call only during business hours. Most people don’t appreciate receiving business calls at home.

  5. Plan your calls carefully. Know whom you want to talk with, and don’t call when that person is likely to be out or very busy. Remember to time your calls appropriately for time zones (most phone books have a time zone map).

  6. Be courteous when your call is screened. There will be times when you won’t get right through to someone. Don’t let this upset you; it happens to everyone. Explain your business to the staff member, and tell him or her if your message is urgent. Being friendly and honest with the screener usually works in your favor. You also shouldn’t ask the answerer, “Who’s this?” If you really want to know, try a different tact: “This is Alex Bell. May I ask your name/who’s speaking, please?”

  7. Greet the person you’re calling politely, identify yourself immediately, and announce your purpose for calling. Whether it’s the first or the 10th time you’ve called someone, give your name. When you are using a mobile phone, identify yourself and explain that you’re on a mobile phone; most of us realize that mobile phone calls are billed by the minute, so your call may be handled quicker.

  8. Be brief; everyone values their office time. If your call may take a long time, ask whether the caller has time to discuss the matter. If not, set up a specific time to get back with the person. If you’re calling someone’s mobile phone, be extra brief. Discuss only pressing issues.

  9. Call back if you are disconnected from a call you placed. It’s your responsibility to call back.

  10. Hang up gently. The last thing callers should hear is their name: “Good-bye, Ms. Donetti.” Never slam the receiver in the other person’s ear; it’s comparable to slamming a door in the person’s face.



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