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Etiquette at work

10 tips for minding your manners on the phone

The cellphone may be supplanting the office phone in today’s business environment, but people still are prone to making mistakes that may reflect badly on them and on their companies. Here are 10 tips for using a phone considerately.

1. Don’t multitask. The person on the other end of the conversation can hear the clicking of a keyboard and will know you are writing an e-mail or surfing the Internet. The quality of your voice is also a giveaway. If you are distracted, you will sound distracted.

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2. Don’t eat. One of the most unpleasant distractions is the person who eats while on a phone call. Not only does it indicate he is not paying full attention, the sound of food being chewed is disgusting.

3. Turn off any background music before you answer or make a call. You may think it can’t be heard but it can, and it is a distraction.

4. Get rid of the gum before answering your phone or making a call. Chewing gum while at your desk may be OK as long as you don’t pop bubbles or make loud smacking noises. On a phone call, the noise of your chewing would be disgusting.

5. Don’t sneeze, cough, or blow your nose into the receiver. If possible, excuse yourself first. Then, hold the receiver away from you or turn your head away so you don’t blast the other person.

6. If you need to put the receiver down for a moment, do it gently. You don’t want to rock the person with a loud thud.

7. Use a person’s name at the start of the call, but it’s not necessary to repeat their name every time you begin speaking.

8. If meeting with a person in your office, avoid the temptation to answer your phone if it rings. If you are expecting an important call, let your visitor know at the start of your meeting. That way, when you answer the call, it’s not surprising or rude.

9. Never use the speakerphone without first letting the other person know. While on speaker, introduce anyone who is in the room.

10. Even nervous habits can be a problem. The tapping of a pencil on the desktop or the clicking of a pen can sound like you are distracted or impatient.

E-mail questions about business etiquette to etiquetteatwork@emilypost.com.
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