Phone Communications: 9 Things to Consider Before You Call

Remember when we used to use the phone for nearly all our day-to-day communications? For many, the device serves as a sticky-note holder and an occasional reminder to call Mom. For others – and I hope it includes yourself – it is still a powerful communication tool. Having just returned from a week-long vacation, I had nearly two dozen voice mail messages at work, and it got me thinking about the dying art of phone etiquette and communications.

So herein are 8 things to NOT do when using the phone and one must-do:

1. Do not leave a message asking if we received your press release (yes, PR News still gets those messages). Usually these messages are left after-hours to protect the junior account executive or intern forced to make the call.

2. Do not state in your message that it is urgent I call you back today and here’s when you’ll be around – when I don’t even know who you or anything about your company.  Every now and then I do fall for this, and it’s not a good feeling.

3. Do not read from a script when leaving a message unless you’re a really good actor.

Those are some voice mail pet peeves. Now, for the actual live conversations, I propose the following don’ts:

4.  Don’t check your emails while in a phone conversation. Give the other person the respect of full engagement.

5. Worse yet, don’t send an email to the person you’re talking to – while you are actually on the call (unless he or she is expecting that email).

6. Don’t hold a conversation while you are waiting in line at Starbucks (or anywhere) – it’s rude and it makes us thirsty.

7. Don’t use speaker phone if you are in a room of one.

8. Don’t rely on email to impart important information – be it good news or bad. Pick up the phone and have a conversation. The listening, the talking, the back and forth communication just might make your day.

9. Do:  Call someone you’ve been meaning to dial up but have resorted to an email “hi” or just months of silence.  ( I’m at 212-621-4964. )

What are your phone etiquette pet peeves?

Diane Schwartz