There are many situations where you will be called upon to answer the phone. Knowing proper answering etiquette and developing good communication habits are important skills to learn. We’ll show you how to respond to a variety of situations.

At The Office

Keep it professional. When you’re answering the phone at your office, you don’t always know who’s on the other end of the conversation. It could be your boss, a customer, one of your colleagues, or even a wrong number. Answering the phone professionally will start whatever conversation you are about to have get off on the right foot.

  • Even if you have caller ID, it could be your boss calling from a colleague’s phone! Answering the phone with “Yeah, what?” will give people an impression of you that you don’t want them to have.

Focus on the conversation. Stop whatever you might be doing and take a brief moment to prepare. Wear the face you want to project before picking up the phone. It makes a difference: whether you’re smiling, frowning, or bored to tears, your caller will hear that in your tone.

Always identify yourself. In business situations, it is appropriate to answer the phone with your name and company: “Good morning, thank you for calling XYZ. This is Joan. How may I help you?”

  • If it’s an internal call, and you know it, you can answer with your department and name: “Hello, this is WebDev, Jordan speaking. How can I help you today?” This will let your caller know they’ve reached the right person, and that you are ready to assist them. Keeping a friendly, personable tone will make the call much more pleasant for everybody.
  • In many office situations, there are guidelines for answering the phone that all employees must follow. Always project sincerity, no matter how silly the canned lines might seem—the customer will be able to tell the difference if you are enthusiastic, versus just reading the cue card: “Thanks for calling ChknLckn, the FngrLckn best!” will sound totally ridiculous if you don’t say it with conviction!

Answer with an appropriate level of decorum. Try not to speak too informally until you know who the caller is.

  • If the speaker does not introduce themselves, say, “May I ask who’s calling?” This is an accepted practice that not only lets the caller know they are being treated personally, it also lets you make a note should you need to contact that person again, or transfer them to another line.Don’t ask the speaker rudely.Or He/She might get displeased with you.
  • Do not delve into gossiping or personal conversations. Unless you’re chatting with a colleague or friend, there’s no room for this in an office situation.

Listen carefully. Find out the reason the person is calling and respond appropriately.

  • If the person they are trying to reach is not at home or is not available to speak, tell the caller, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Simpson, Mr. Burns is not available right now. May I take a message?”
  • Be sure to record the person’s name, phone number, and purpose of call. This way, if it is an important call, the issue can be dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Be wary of information-gathering calls. If the caller requests details about you or others, consider carefully before responding. Even if the caller gives a name and identifies his or her company, you should be wary unless they are a trusted contact.

  • In a business situation, state “I’m sorry, sir/madam. Company policy is that I am not permitted to give out that information. May I have more details on why it is required?” and make your assessment from there.

At Home

Be yourself. Your home is your castle, as they say, and while phone etiquette is still the best practice, the formality of the office is not usually necessary.

Say hello! It’s a universal greeting known around the world: “Hello?” Say it with a smile, and people will usually respond accordingly.

  • If, based on caller ID and experience, you know who’s calling, feel free saying “Hi, Tom! How are you today?”
  • If you have caller ID and do not recognize the caller, or the call is either listed as “unknown,” or “blocked,” answering the phone is discretionary.
  • If you do choose to answer, be aware that the person on the other end of the line is probably in a business frame of mind, and answer accordingly. Be wary of giving out your name to strangers, however. A simple “Hello?” will suffice.
  • If they ask for you or another member of your household, ask them for their name and organization before you tell them anything—the last thing you want to do is give telemarketers too much information! If they’re cagey or won’t say who they are, remember—you’re under no obligation to continue speaking to them.

Voice Mail

Record your greeting. Not all calls get through, and when they don’t, answering machines and voice mail are there to take the calls we miss. Because you don’t know who might reach your machine, using proper phone etiquette is important.

Keep it professional in the office. Your answering machine greeting at work should be handled much like you would handle a “live” call: “Hello, you’ve reached the office of Mr. Burns. Please leave a message, including your name, phone number, and time you called. If this is an emergency, please contact my assistant at 415-555-1234.”

At home, keep it simple, friendly, and direct. You can say “Hi, this is Steve. I can’t pick up the phone at the moment, but leave your name and number, and I’ll call you back as soon as I can.”

  • If you want to be more anonymous, you can say “Hi, you’ve reached 415-555-1234. There’s nobody available to take your call, but leave your name and number and we’ll get back to you.”
  • Family options are flexible. You can answer for your whole family: “Hi, this is the Simpson family. Sorry we can’t come to the phone right now, but leave a message and we’ll call you back as soon as we can!”
  • You can also have the whole family speak (either as a chorus, or individually), but the essence should be the same: sorry we missed your call, we’re not able to answer at the moment, please leave a message.
  • Whatever you do, avoid saying “We’re not home right now,” especially if you’re not home! This lets potential troublemakers know they won’t be disturbed as they “borrow” your TV, stereo, and jewelry.


  • Keep a pad and pen handy by each phone so you won’t need to scramble to find them to take a message.
  • If possible, go to a quiet place so as not to disturb others with your talking and so you can hear more clearly.
  • If your phone has caller ID, be sure to check who it is before answering, but remember that it’s possible it could be someone else using that person’s phone. The same applies when calling another person.
  • If the call is for another person, mark down the points in case you forget it. For example, the telephone number, person’s name, time they called, why they called, etc.


  • Learn how to get off the phone politely. You don’t want to upset people by hanging up abruptly.

Article Source: wikiHow

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