When it comes to etiquette, many people get it wrong. While some rules are universal, others are more complex, and a few are downright strange. What’s more, some of the most basic rules are the most confusing or difficult to remember. If you’re looking to avoid awkward silences or misunderstandings, keep reading for some expert advice on how to behave on the phone. Regardless of how long you’ve been on the phone, there’s bound to be some etiquette to learn. Here are eight of the most basic tips for phone etiquette.
Let the other person answer first.
Some etiquette rules are universal, while others are more specific to a culture or individual. On the phone, you’re more likely to make a faux pas if you don’t let the other person finish their sentence first. In many countries, it’s expected that when someone calls you, you answer the phone. When you’re on the phone, it’s a good idea to let the other person finish their sentence and then wait for them to finish their sentence before you speak. If you’re not planning on speaking for a while, this unwritten rule can save you from awkward silences.
Don’t be an ass.
Asking someone to “assist” you in some task or project is likely to end in disaster. No one ever said being helpful was an offence. Even if you’re not entirely sure how to proceed, asking for help is usually a sign you’re overthinking the situation and need someone to walk you through it step by step. Instead of taking someone up on their offer, explain what you need and then start the task yourself.
Just because you’re a professional doesn’t mean you have to be an ass. In fact, you should be professional at all times, even when dealing with individuals who may not be. Even when you don’t have to be professional with everyone, you should at least try to be professional with yourself. You don’t need to be the nicest person in the world, but you do need to be considerate of others.
Ask permission before you email or text
Whether you’re emailing a friend or sending a quick text, you should first ask if the other person wants to receive the message. While you don’t have to wait for a response before moving forward with your message, it’s still good manners to do so. When in doubt, check the recipient’s email or ask on the phone.
Don’t start a conversation with “How are you?”
This question usually means more than you think. You might have assumed that people ask how you are all the time, so you respond with the question. However, that’s often not the case. People expect more from their conversations than just general greetings, so start a conversation with something else.
An example might be, “How are you doing today?” Instead of asking a question, you can also respond with a statement. For example, if you find yourself dealing with an anxious individual, you could say, “I’m kind of worried about you. How are you doing?”
Ask how the other person is doing.
This question might sound simple, but it’s one of the most important. You should always use your best judgment when communicating with others, but in a relationship, this question should mean something different to each person.
For example, if you’re the one who seems to be looking for reassurance, you probably need to work on your self-care. However, if your significant other is the one constantly asking for reassurance, you may be able to spot the problem and take the initiative to end the relationship on a better note.
Pause before you end a call or message.
There are a few things you can do to prevent a potential awkward silence when you’re on the phone. First, pause before you end a conversation or message. This allows you to collect your thoughts and collect your thoughts you’ve already spoken before you let your voice rise to a higher pitch.
While it may feel natural to speed through a conversation or message, you don’t want to do so when someone is listening. Pause before you speak and collect your thoughts, then move on to the next person.
Stop by for a visit.
If you haven’t had the chance to visit someone in a while, it’s a good idea to stop by for a visit. This gives you an opportunity to catch up with the person and see how they’re doing.
While you shouldn’t stay for an extended visit if the other person isn’t receptive to seeing you, you should still stop by. This allows you to spend some time with the person while they’re still around, rather than having to say goodbye and move on to the next person in your contact list.
Don’t send another person an email or text message until you’ve read and approved it first.
Sometimes the best course of action is to wait until you’ve read and approved an email or text message before you send it. This way, you can be sure that the recipient has the necessary knowledge to process the information properly.
You don’t have to be a professional to know that someone doesn’t know enough to be qualified to receive information from you. After all, you don’t know enough to be qualified to receive medical information, financial information, or legal information from another person. However, when it comes to phone etiquette, you should always be judicious in your use of language.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a favor in return.
You shouldn’t expect to be treated like a friend when you’re on the phone. Likewise, you shouldn’t assume that someone wants to be your friend just because they’re on the phone with you. People use the phone for a variety of different purposes, so you should be mindful of who you’re talking to.
While you don’t have to give a gift to someone every time they call you, it’s also not a good idea to refrain from giving a favor in return when someone asks for it. Instead of saying no, try to think of ways to show your favor without saying a word. For example, if your significant other asks you to pick up the kids from soccer practice, try to put yourself in that person’s shoes and instead of declining, say you’ll be glad to do so.
The best way to prepare for your first conversation is to learn basic phone etiquette. Knowing how to conduct yourself on the phone can make or break a relationship, so take the time to get it right. Whether you’re just getting on the phone for the first time or have been on the phone for years, these eight rules will help you along the way.