A Simple Guide to Proper Phone Etiquette

Whether you’re starting a new job or simply texting a friend, having proper phone etiquette can make the biggest difference in how your conversation goes. While there are no set rules, people have expectations when they make or answer a phone call, and there are some major do’s and don’ts that you may be forgetting.

A Simple Guide To Proper Phone Etiquette

From your personal life to your professional gig, here is a simple guide to proper phone etiquette.

Location is key 

We’ve all see the ads in the movie theater telling you to silence your cell phone. No one wants to hear your phone ring in the middle of a major plot point, and nobody cares about your conversation with your Aunt Susan. If you’re expecting a major call, set your phone to vibrate and step out of the theater before you answer, or consider not going see a movie if you’re expecting a call.

This is the type of thinking you should have wherever you go. Most phone calls should be taken in a private and quiet environment, but let’s face it life gets in the way. If your grocery shopping and someone gives you a call, just be courteous to those around you and pop in some headphones. This way you’re not screaming for the person on the other end to hear you and disrupting the people around you. Headphones will also eliminate a lot of background noise for the person on the other line. 

If you’re planning a professional phone call, your phone etiquette needs to be taken up a notch. Do not take a business call while you are grocery shopping, or anywhere else where you can not control the environment. You could potentially lose a client or sale if they hear “clean up on aisle three” in the background of the call.

Respect Time Zones

A Simple Guide To Proper Phone Etiquette

Living in this day and age is wonderful with the ability to call loved ones who are overseas. We can connect and truly stay in touch with one another no matter the distance. But sometimes we forget our phone etiquette when we dial them to chat. While it may be 2:00 in the afternoon for you, it could be 2:00 in the morning for them.

Respecting time zones is one of the most important things about having proper phone etiquette. Before you make the call, check your clock app or do a simple Google search to find out what time it is for your friend. No one wants to be awakened in the middle of the night for a phone call if it’s not important.

READ MORE: How To Maintain A Long Distance Relationship

Get to Know Your Device

If you plan on making a phone call or Facetime chat, make sure you know how to use the software before you dial the number. If you have to put a conversation (whether business or personal) on hold while you try to flip your camera around, it shows extremely poor phone etiquette and can lead to frustration on both ends.

There are tons of Youtube videos on how to use your cell phone, so no matter what device you have make sure to go through a couple of them to understand how to use it better!

Set Up a Voicemail Box

Nothing is more frustrating than making a call and not being able to leave a message if the person is not available. Voicemails are a wonderful thing, especially for your phone etiquette. Voicemail boxes give your caller a chance to give you information on why they are calling before you make a return call. This is extremely important for the person who is leaving a message. You never know if they give you a time that they can or can’t chat, if they have a request of you, or if they’re just calling to say hello. 

If you don’t want to set up a personalized message then go with the simple voicemail message that comes with your phone. But please, for all of us, check your voicemail before returning the call!

Not Everything Requires a Phone Call

A Simple Guide To Proper Phone Etiquette

Proper phone etiquette is all about knowing when to make a phone call. We all live busy lives and some information simply does not need to be heard over the phone. If you’re worried about annoying someone with a phone call, try sending a text message first! If you truly want to tell them over the phone, but it’s not urgent, send a message asking them to call you whenever is convenient for them. This shows the other person that you value their time.

READ MORE: Political Fatigue And How It’s Affecting Your Life

Text Once and Wait for a Response

While sending a text message before making a call is great phone etiquette, hold off on sending a bunch of texts at once. It can be overwhelming for almost anyone to open their phone and see 10 text messages from the same person that they have to respond to. 

You’ll also want to skip the extremely long novel-like messages. Construct one or two small messages before you send your text and wait for a response before you go any deeper. 

Schedule a Facetime Call

A Simple Guide To Proper Phone Etiquette

When you’re wanting to Facetime a friend or family member, make sure you schedule this ahead of time. This gives the other person time to prep their surroundings and they become 100% dedicated to showing their face (God forbid you to try to Facetime them while they’re on the toilet!). 

Having a Facetime call should be more about connecting with each other than “fitting them in”. A Facetime chat is more intimate than a regular phone call, so be sure that you are aware of your phone etiquette. Set up a location to Facetime rather than walking around with your phone causing the other person to get distracted or even dizzy.

READ MORE: How SAHM Can Contribute To Family Income

Phone Etiquette Tips for the Workplace

Now that you have the standard phone etiquette tips, let’s make sure you are on your A-game in your workplace. There are a few things that you can do at work to stand out amongst your boss, colleagues, and even clients.

A Simple Guide To Proper Phone Etiquette
Answer right away

When you make a phone call, waiting for the person to answer is a little daunting. You may find yourself even becoming bored. To prevent anyone from being unhappy with your phone call before it even starts make sure to answer your phone within the first three rings. 

Speak up, but don’t yell

Annunciation is a key to show off your phone etiquette. You don’t want your caller to constantly try to turn up their volume to hear you or constantly use the words “What did you say?”. Speak up so your caller can hear you, but be careful not to speak too loudly!

Do not use speakerphone

Not only does this make it harder for your caller to hear you, but it also eliminates the privacy that your caller has. While you may be completely alone in the office, your caller can hear when they are on speakerphone and will be less willing to chat. If you want to hear them better, consider investing in a pair of Bluetooth headphones.


Most work phone calls have little or nothing to do with you, so make sure that you are giving your full attention and listening to what your caller has to say. You can ensure that they know you are listening by sometimes repeating the last thing they said back to you. 

While there are no set rules for proper phone etiquette, you can make a huge difference in your personal and work life when you follow these tips. Remember to consider whether you should call, text or Facetime before doing so, and always be aware of your surroundings. You’re going to be amazed at how well your phone calls go from here on out!


You may have proper phone etiquette, but what about the internet? How do you handle internet “trolls”? Make sure to check out Troll Patrol: 6 Things You Can Do To Shut Down Trolling Online!

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A Simple Guide To Proper Phone Etiquette

Photo Credits: Priscilla Du Preez | Ben Collins | Magnet.me | Toa Heftiba | Meghan Schiereck | Nubelson Fernandes



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Lauren Benson
Lauren Bensonhttp://www.lbensonphotography.com
Lauren is a traveling mom, wife, and wedding photographer. Some of her favorite things include hiking with her family, photographing couples who are in love, singing to her daughter, creating incredible vegetarian dishes, traveling the world, and dying her hair crazy colors.

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