The telephone is one of the greatest inventions of modern times, yet we so much take it for granted without giving it a second thought. It is the fastest way of communicating with our family, friends, work colleagues and in an emergency.
Only fifty years ago no one would have a telephone in their homes. In order to make a telephone call you would have to go to a public telephone in a street. This would probably be quite a distance from where you lived and when your reached the telephone the probability would be that it was broken. You would then have to go and find another telephone sometimes walking a couple of miles before finding one which was in use.
It is just as important when using the telephone to be as courteous and polite as you would be in a face to face meeting. When making a call always ask if the person you are speaking to if it is convenient to speak. If not you can ask when it might be convenient to call them back if appropriate. If it is going to be a difficult call also prepare the other person: “Have you got some time to talk as I would like to run something past you?”
Do not deliberately let the telephone ring too long before answering the call. If you answer your telephone by speakerphone, make this clear immediately.
Never have someone on speakerphone in the company of others without letting them know that you are doing this or asking their permission to do this.
If you call a wrong number, apologise politely, (remember it is you who has made the error and not the other person answering the call) saying you have accidentally dialled the wrong number and end the call without wasting the other person’s time any further.
When on the telephone try not to sneeze, clear your throat, cough, laugh or shout loudly.
Do not eat, smoke, tap, slam or run water on the telephone. If you are wearing dangly earrings this can also be a distraction to the person on the other end of the call if they clank constantly on the earpiece of the telephone.
Never keep anyone on hold for more than a minute, this especially applies to international calls, as the call will probably be quite expensive. It would be better to ask if you can call back. Be extra careful with anyone who does not speak English as their first language; speak slower and pronounce all your words very clearly.
It is not appropriate to start speaking to anyone else who may be in the room.
If you do need to speak to someone in the room, apologise to the person on the phone and if appropriate put the telephone on mute, but remember the advice above about leaving someone on hold too long.
If you have promised to call someone back by a particular time do so even if you have not got the information they need. Just let the person know that you are still looking into the matter and as soon as you have the information you will get back in touch or if necessary tell them when you will call them back again.
For more information visit my website at www.etiquetteandmanners.co.uk The e-books are on sale for £3.99. The courses are also certified for continued professional development (CPD) if required.