The Complete Guide to Phone Etiquette

Peyton Duplechien • 08 May 2019 • 3 min read

Most people who use the phone don’t think too much about phone etiquette. Yet, it’s very important that people get acquainted with basic phone etiquette to ensure a smooth and nice conversation. Sometimes, people can get angry because the other party doesn’t practice any phone etiquette. Here are some tips for developing home phone etiquette, work phone etiquette, and cell phone etiquette.

Home Phone Etiquette

  • Generally, phone calls should not be made before 7:00am and after 10:00pm.
  • In case you dial a wrong number, don’t forget to apologize.
  • When the maid picks up the phone on behalf of the members of the family, she should respond by saying — “Mrs X is not at home, May I take a message?” It is recommended that she takes the number of the caller too.
  • Your answering machine message in your absence should preferably mention a phone number where you can be contacted. This could be an emergency!
  • If you will be receiving a call at a very early or very late time of day, let your housemates know so they will be prepared for the phone ringing.
  • Avoid long phone conversations when you know someone else is waiting for a call, or needs to use the phone.

Work Phone Etiquette

  • Clear your mind from all tasks at hand and respond sincerely to the caller.
  • Prepare yourself for the phone call before speaking.
  • Be sure to respond by the third ring.
  • Greet and speak to the caller respectfully.
  • Speak in a clear, soft presentable tone, moderate speed, and volume.
  • In case you don’t have the information the caller wants, pass the phone call to the correct person and ensure that the query has been resolved. Alternatively, you can simply take the call back and give the person a time frame in which you will respond to the query.
  • Switch off the monitor of your computer.
  • Do not eat or chew something in your mouth.
  • Smile before taking the call, this allows you to be more amicable.
  • Never use the phrases I Don’t KnowI Can’t Do ThatYou Have ToJust a Second, and No.
  • While leaving a professional message, always leave the phone/cell phone number where you can be reached.
  • Keep a pen and a paper handy so that certain important details can be noted down.
  • If you receive a call from home and you are not on a break, keep it short, and resume your work.
  • For conference calls, make a call from a location that is quiet, identify yourself, and avoid putting it on hold for any reason. Don’t indulge in casual conversations with the others, and wait till you are greeted personally.

Cell Phone Etiquette

  • While in movie theaters, you should either turn off mobile phone or keep it on silent mode.
  • While spending some time with your family at a public place, don’t talk on the cell phone.
  • While attending an evening party, turning off your mobile phone is advisable. In case you are waiting for an important call, don’t forget to let your host know about it.
  • Cell phones should strictly not be used while you are driving.
  • If your cell phone rings while you are talking to someone, take the call only if it is important and excuse yourself for the duration of the call.
  • While talking to someone during such an occasion, you should not send text messages.
  • If you must take a call while in public, avoid loud places, and try to find a quiet secluded place to speak on the phone.
  • Avoid using your phone in the restroom.
  • Use appropriate volume when speaking on the phone, everyone around you does not need to hear your conversation.
  • Avoid using your phone while paying for things in person. It is impolite to the cashier, and you may miss something important, like an incorrect charge or order.
  • Try to remain aware of your surroundings while on the phone, especially when texting, you don’t want to run/walk into anything.
  • Avoid excessively loud or annoying ring-tones, they can be very disruptive or aggravating to those around you.
  • Be aware of your language while in public, yelling, rude language and profanity may be inappropriate and offensive to those within earshot.


Telephone etiquettes are not rules but they help form better relationships with colleagues, clients, family members, friends, neighbors, and even strangers! Below are some additional resources with telephone etiquette suggestions
Written by Jacob C. Herman