Depending on your job description, you may have to make several calls a day, and will soon get used to holding conversations and possibly even developing working relationships with people you will never meet. The important thing is to be aware that telephone communication is a different form of communication altogether and requires a different type of clarity and structure. Well refined spoken English skills will help you get your message across clearly.
The following are some rules of Telephone Etiquette:
Call at the Right Time
Don’t call beyond regular office hours without prior permission. Send a text message or email to ask if you can call the person concerned. Also, if it is an overseas call, make sure you have converted the time correctly.
Ask If It Is a Good Time to Speak
When you call someone without a prior appointment, always ask them if they have a few minutes to talk before you launch into the conversation. They may have been in the middle of something else; just because someone answers your call doesn’t mean they have the time you need for your conversation.
Make a Good First Impression
If you’re receiving calls from an office phone, it is a good idea to introduce yourself when you pick up the phone. For example, a cheerful “Good morning, this is Karen from Customer Relations. How can I help you?” sets the right tone for a call. Also, if your job profile requires you to receive calls on your cell phone, avoid setting musical or other informal caller tunes on your phone. An inappropriate / informal caller tune will give your caller, who may be a client or potential client, the impression that you are not a serious professional. Proficient spoken English skills will also help you make a good impression.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Avoid calling someone when you’re in a noisy area. This is especially inconvenient if you are part of a conference call where a lot of people are dialed into a common telephone bridge, as everyone is disturbed by your background noise. If you can’t avoid your location, ensure that your phone is on “mute” mode and simply unmute every time you need to contribute to the conversation.
Avoid taking long calls while on the road as you may get disconnected when you go through low signal patches while driving. If you can’t avoid this, make sure to set expectations with the other participants that you will reconnect if you do happen to get disconnected from the line.
If you are using a phone in an office meeting room, make sure you are familiar with that particular phone instrument before you start your call. Know where the mute button and speaker phone buttons are. It’s always a good practice to check in advance that the instrument is working and that there is no distortion of voice quality.
If you are to initiate or join a teleconference, make sure you know how to dial into the conference bridge and have the dial in details well in time before the call. Fumbling for access codes when people are waiting for you on the conference bridge is not professional.
When on a conference call with many people, it is a good practice to identify yourself every time you speak up. A simple, “This is Henry” is enough. The purpose is to avoid any confusion as to who is speaking. This is especially important in large groups.
Do not put your call on hold when on a conference call. Different phones and conference lines are designed differently. When you put a call on hold, it will most likely disrupt the call because the on-hold music or message will be audible to all call participants.
Be on Time
The most obvious but often missed rule of etiquette is to be on time. If you are initiating a teleconference, you should be at least 5 minutes before time. If you are a participant, it is a good practice to join at least a minute before the scheduled time of the meeting. If you know you will be a few minutes late, always let the facilitator of the call know in advance.
Improve Your Spoken English skills
Good communication skills can help you present your thoughts with clarity and efficiency. A good hold on English language and English grammar can enhance your conversations over the phone. You can improve your spoken English skills by practising speaking in English regularly.