How to Speak and Listen Courteously on the Phone

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How to Speak and Listen Courteously on the Phone

Poor telephone etiquette can – and often does – have serious consequences in terms of business or even personal losses. Unfortunately, for many people with busy schedules and a full workload, answering the phone graciously isn’t always the highest priority.

Whether you’re speaking with a customer, boss or colleague, courteous phone skills help you make the right impression and also drive the conversation in the right direction. What’s more, answering a business call is different from a personal call and you need to be careful about tone, choice of words, timing and non-verbal cues.



Keep your tone even, calm and courteous at all times. Continuing to speak politely (no matter how upset the other person is) helps them understand that you’re there to listen to them.


Answer the Phone Quickly

Answer the phone within the first three rings and smile before you answer the phone. The caller can ‘hear’ the smile – through your voice – and this helps set a friendly tone. Always identify yourself or provide the company name first before requesting for the caller’s name.


Correct Choice of Words

Use proper grammar, speak in full sentences and avoid slang. Be brief and concise while using a friendly (but not too friendly) tone at the same time. Build rapport by using the caller’s name but ensure that you keep control of the conversation.

Listen actively to the caller and absorb the information carefully. Show patience and allow them to finish speaking without interrupting them. Listen not only to the words but also to the tone, volume and frequency of words to understand the caller’s message. Repeat the words to the caller to confirm that you have understood the message correctly.

  • Give your full attention to the phone call
  • Keep a notebook and pen handy to jot down messages
  • Do not chew gum or eat while speaking on the phone
  • While ending the call, schedule a follow-up, transfer or escalate the call


Keep Business Phone Calls Confident, Upbeat and Positive

Despite the use of emails, texts and social media, communicating properly over the phone is the easiest and fastest way to offer topnotch customer service and get things done. Following the right rules and incorporating telephone etiquette helps you prove your professionalism and often signals the start of mutually beneficial and longstanding relationships.

However, using a warm and friendly tone help foster trust with customers and build respect with your colleagues, employers and subordinates.


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