Professional Telephone Etiquette

How to make professional telephone calls

Telephone Etiquette | Professional Telephone etiquetteSome people find telephone calls easy, others find it very daunting.  Either way, you should always adopt the rules of professional telephone etiquette.  Making telephone calls in a professional capacity isn’t difficult once you’ve mastered the basics.

Over the years, I have spent a lot of time on the telephone, taking and making calls in a customer service and sales capacity and have picked up some good advice about professional telephone ettiquette.

Be Prepared

Set up your desk or workspace before you begin to take or make your telephone calls.  Make sure you have the basics to hand, a notepad and pens or your PC open on the right screen to save you having to frantically search for something to record details mid-conversation.

Eliminate Nuisance Noise

There is nothing worse than trying to have a conversation in a professional capacity when the background is noisy and distracting. Wherever possible, the background should be free from noise, you need to create a professional impression to the person you are speaking to so make sure the washing machine is off, the printer isn’t chugging out reams of copies and your co-workers aren’t noisily chatting about what they saw on TV last night.

Introduce Yourself

Sounds obvious I know but how many of us get sales phone calls each week, which start off asking us if we are ok or how we are?  Lots and it’s really annoying because you know it’s a sales call before they even start reeling off their sales speel. It sours the call before you’ve even introduced yourself.

My best advice is to try not to alienate people straight away by fobbing them off with silly nonsense, be upfront about why you are calling. Simply identify yourself with a quick “Hello, I’m [name] and I am calling from [name of company], can I speak to [name of person] please?” Don’t try to be clever and disguise why you are calling, this really irritates people and will guarantee you a knock back.

If you are answering the telephone, it is important that you answer it promptly and professionally. Aim to answer the telephone within 6 rings and always open conversation with a friendly greeting stating the name of the company/department and who you are.  If you can’t answer within 6 rings, ensure your voicemail is activated or your line is forward to a colleague in the department so the caller is not left hanging on.

Use Good Diction and Language

Always use exceptional manners on the phone, pitch yourself appropriately to the call’s recipient and try to avoid using slang, bad language, poor humour or sarcasm.

Enunciate your words clearly to ensure you are understood and don’t speak at 100 miles per hour. Relax, even if you are under pressure to secure a sale, keep your voice calm and natural to avoid lots of rambling and confusion.

I am a big advocate of smiling when on the telephone, it instantly makes your tone of voice more interesting and conveys more confidence.  There is nothing worse than speaking to someone who has a boring, monotonous tone.


You may not be leading the conversation at all times so when the other person is speaking, be sure to acknowledge them with subtle cues to let them know you are listening.  A simple yes, no, ok, hmmm, or similar in the appropriate place shows you are paying attention.

Ending the Call

It is considered polite and good telephone etiquette to thank the person for taking the time to speak with  you, we are all busy people and their time is valuable.  I would also recommend ending the call with a plan of action so you both know the outcome of the call and to clarify what the expectations are from both sides and if follow up is required from either party.

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Telephone etiquette | How to make professional telephone calls