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Move Out Skills: What Exactly Is Phone Call Etiquette?

Teaching Teens Proper Phone Etiquette

By Jane Parent

Teenagers spend a lot of time using their phones—but not actually talking on the phone. As a result, many have seriously atrophied phone manners. Yet sometimes only a phone call will do. If your teenager’s phone skills are rusty, here are some phone etiquette tips to share.

Before you make an important call, think through exactly what you plan to say.

Sometimes it helps to write out a script or a list of talking points so you don’t forget anything. Anticipate the other person’s responses, and have specific questions.

Always identify yourself at the beginning of a call.

“Hello, this is Amy Johnson.” Don’t make them guess who’s calling.

State the name of the person you are calling. 

“Hi, this is John Smith. May I please speak with Ms. Jane Porter?”

Ask if this is a convenient time to talk.

Or email first to set up a mutually agreeable time for a phone conversation.

Speak clearly and slowly.

If you don’t understand something, avoid saying, “What?” and instead say, “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?”

Smile.

Even through the phone, they will hear the pleasant, positive tone in your voice.

Be an attentive listener.

Show the other person respect by giving him or her your full attention. Don’t try to talk to other people, watch TV, eat, or drink while talking. If you must interrupt the conversation, say, “Please excuse me for a moment. I’ll be right back.”

Be prepared for your call to go to voicemail.

If it does, plan for your message to be as specific as possible. “Hello, this is John calling about my shift tomorrow. My phone number is …” State the subject of your call. Always leave your return telephone number as part of your message. Spell out your name.

Don’t just hang up.

Finish your call with “Thank you,” or “Goodbye.”

Jane Parent

Jane Parent is senior editor of Your Teen.