Etiquette at Work

Phone calls at the office have special rules

While some offices have done away with the landline phone, most have not. It’s still a major communications device. Here are five tips when using the office phone.

Face to face trumps a call. The person with you deserves your attention. When meeting with someone, put your phone on Do Not Disturb so calls automatically go to voice mail. If you don’t have DND, let the caller know you’re busy and will call back later.

Hold back on the HOLD button. If you place a person on hold, be sure to limit the time to a minute, two at most. If you’re the person on hold, wait no more than three minutes and then hang up. If you don’t hear back from the offending party soon, call again.


“Hi, it’s me.” Not a good idea. Best practice when is to give your name right away: “Hi, this is Jim Jasper from Jasper Electronics. Is Tom Jameson available?” Or “Hi. Thank you for calling KSC. This is Peter Krackow. How may I help you?” If you’re on the receiving end of a call from No Name, you can always ask, “Thank you for calling ABC Electric. With whom am I speaking?” or “Who’s calling, please?”

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Nix the speakerphone in the cube. These should not even be in cubicle areas or open office environments. Don’t make others listen to the dial tone, the annoying beep, beep, beep while you dial, the ringing, and the person answering, all before you pick up the handset. Use them only in an office or conference room with the door closed.

Try answering the phone. In today’s office world, especially those with open office areas, everyone can hear the phone ring. Even an executive can step up to plate once in a while. It’ll impress the heck out of a caller to have the owner or a senior executive answer a call. I know a bank president who would take a turn answering calls in his call center. Imagine when a customer with a problem got the head honcho on the line. Great for the bank’s image.

 Rudeness in America: Last week I asked readers if they thought Americans are ruder today than 20 or 30 years ago. Thank you to those who clicked on the link and answered the question. If you haven’t and would like to, click I’ll announce results next week.

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