Phone etiquette – the good, the bad and the ugly

Tuesday, 28th July 2020

In this new era of flexible and remote working, maintaining regular contact is perhaps more important than ever before, and with so many options available to achieve this, it’s easy to make sure your business keeps talking.

However, whether via your phone system, conference device, or business mobile, it’s still really important to make sure that all communication maintains a high standard that you would expect from face-to-face interactions.

With this in mind, we’re going back to basics in this blog and taking a look at some of the most common phone faux pas’ , as well as sharing some handy tips on how to ensure your telephone etiquette is always top notch whatever device you’re using.

What are the most common phone frustrations?

Studies have shown that the following phone behaviour is considered the most irksome by many in the workplace:

  • Having a conversation with someone on the phone, while they are also having a conversation with another person in the background.
  • Being frequently interrupted during a phone conversation.
  • A person/s not listening or becoming distracted.
  • Being put on hold for long periods of time.
  • Person/s eating or drinking whilst talking on the phone.
  • Hearing loud music or noises in the background, during a call.
  • Someone not speaking clearly or loud enough to hear well.
  • A poor signal, resulting in difficulty hearing the conversation.
  • Being placed on speaker phone.
  • A person/s continually coughing and/or sniffling.

Although mostly minor and even mildly humorous in some cases, bad habits on the phone, such as the ones listed above, can lead to people prematurely ending calls, not paying attention and in some cases, even muting a call to avoid dealing with annoyances!

For those in the workplace, any of the above could have very real, detrimental effects on businesses, with information being misconstrued or misunderstood and therefore not actioned in the correct way, or at all.

To avoid this happening, there are a number of simple, yet effective things you can do when on a call, to make the experience a pleasant and productive one for all concerned.

What does good phone etiquette look like?

  • Actively listen – give the call your full attention and take notes if need be, to avoid asking the caller/s to repeat themselves.
  • Stay positive and remain friendly – a warm, cheery demeanour will ensure your conversations are easy, comfortable and an enjoyable experiences for all involved.
  • Don’t interrupt – Make sure the other caller has finished speaking before you begin to talk. As well as helping to ensure you hear everything correctly, this shows consideration and a willingness to listen.
  • Be prepared – if you’re eating or drinking prior to a call, make sure you’re completely finished before making it, to avoid literally chewing off someone’s ear! The same goes for colds, coughs and sniffles; blow your nose and clear your throat as much as possible, so as not to disrupt the conversation with off-putting and distracting sounds
  • Be aware of your surroundings – do your best to make and receive calls in an appropriate setting. For example, if the conversation contains sensitive or personal information, make sure you’re in a quiet, private space.
  • Use appropriate language – the way in which you speak, largely portrays the way in which people will respond to you. Using casual language, swear words and slang will give the impression of unprofessionalism and lack of interest in the conversation.
  • Recognise your tone of voice – your voice connects you to the caller and indicates your approach and intention within a conversation. Keep it steady and at a reasonable volume throughout the call, and always make sure to enunciate. Sitting upright in your chair can help you with this!

Now you know the tips and tricks to make sure you always have productive and enjoyable phone conversations, but do you have the right business phone system to make them on?

Want to find out how our telephony solutions can help you increase your productivity and reduce your costs, or just some friendly, impartial advice on the best tools to make comms a breeze? Contact us today via our live chat, 0333 3603 723, or email

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