While the cell phone may be supplanting the office phone in today’s business environment, regardless of the equipment, people are prone to making mistakes that can end up reflecting badly on them and on their companies. In turn it can even lead to lost business. Here are ten tips for using a phone considerately.
- Don’t multi-task. The person on the other end of the conversation can hear the clicking of keys on a keyboard and will know you are writing an email or surfing the internet. The quality of your voice is also a give-away. If you are distracted, you’ll sound distracted.
- 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 and swallowed is audible and disgusting.
- 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.
- Chewing gum while at your desk may be okay as long as you don’t pop bubbles or make loud smacking noises, but get rid of the gum before answering your phone or making a call. The noise of your chewing would be disgusting.
- 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.
- You might need to put the receiver down briefly. If you do, do it gently so the other person isn’t rocked by a loud thud.
- 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.
- If you are 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 to her.
- Never use the speakerphone without first letting the other person on the other end know that you are doing so. Also, be sure to introduce anyone who is in the room with you while you are on a speakerphone.
- Even nervous habits can be a problem. The tapping of a pencil on the desktop or the clicking of a ballpoint pen can sound like you are distracted or impatient.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.