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Phone and Email Etiquette

Phone and Email Etiquette

Phone calls and Emails are a part of our daily activities. We make personal as well as business calls, send emails to our colleagues, managers, customers and many. In this growing electronic age, we very often forget to keep phone and email etiquette. Let us see what all we should be keeping in mind whether it is a phone call or an email.

Phone Etiquette

Phone calls can be personal and/or official. How you talk, what you talk and when you talk are very much important to build or retain the relationship between the caller and receiver. A wrong call could jeopardize your personal and business relationship. Hence it is very important to keep up phone etiquette.

  1. When you receive a call, try to answer it within three rings
  2. Hold the mouthpiece in such a way that your voice is clear to the caller – use speakerphone only if it is absolutely necessary
  3. Start the conversation by introducing you – like “Hi, xxx here”
  4. Next confirm with whom you are talking to even if the caller name is displayed – as the phone could be used by someone else
  5. If you are watching or listening to something on the TV, Computer, Mobile or Tablet, pause it until you finish talking
  6. Your language is very much important – use it properly
  7. Control the volume of your voice for a pleasant conversation
  8. Pay attention to what the caller says and take notes wherever required
  9. Try not to end the call abruptly – the caller might not have completed
  10. In case you have to transfer the call or put it on hold, ask the caller first before doing so
  11. Try not to interrupt the caller while he/she is talking – you may not hear completely what the other person is trying to convey
  12. If it is a Customer Service/Complaint call, be patient to understand the customer’s requirement and try to deal with the customer politely and escalate the issue to a Manager level only if it is necessary
  13. Too many forwards or holding a call will annoy the customers. So try to minimize as much as possible
  14. If you are making a call, introduce yourself and/or your company first and then tell what your call is for
  15. Ask the receiver whether it is the best time to talk before proceeding with your call. If the receiver is busy or not in a mood to attend to your call, try to get his/her convenient time
  16. Be prepared with the matter that you would like to talk
  17. If you are making a sales/marketing call, keep in mind that the receiver may not be interested in the subject. If it is so, try to end the call instead of annoying the receiver with your promotion – unfortunately spammers are very much active these days
  18. Always be sincere and honest in your talk. Giving false promises are very bad
  19. Remember, the details of your communication can be recorded and can be used as legal evidence in case of any disputes. Be careful about what you say
  20. Always end your call in a positive note
  21. If someone called you and you could not attend to the call, give a call back as soon as you can and try to explain why you were unable to pick up the call

Email Etiquette

Emails are still important means of communication in business. Personal emails have been almost taken over by the Chat Messages but there are many who communicate over email on personal matters. Companies often give a handout on Email etiquette when a new employee joins service. But people forget the best practices often. Like phone calls, emails are also a means of building and continuing a best relationship.

  1. Never write a mail with a disturbed mind – you can be too impolite or unable to convey what you want
  2. Carefully select the Recipients of the Email – never add unwanted recipients “To”, “Cc” or “Bcc” in your Email
  3. The Subject of the Email should be clear to the recipients
  4. Greeting is important – use appropriate Greeting words depending upon your recipient(s)
  5. All Capitals can be unhealthy – some people use all words in capitals which is either annoying or trying to give unwanted emphasize to the matter. Use “All Capitals” words only wherever required
  6. Avoid or limit using Short Words – while writing business Emails, do not use Short Words. It may be used in personal communications. The recipient(s) may or may not know what exactly you mean by the Short Words and can also misinterpret what you have written
  7. Avoid funny sayings or colloquialisms while writing an Email – this is very important with business Emails and especially in multi-culture environment. It could become an insult to some people if not confusing them
  8. When you reply to an incoming Email, never use “Reply All” or “CC” everyone. Copy to only those who are required to act upon the Email or need to be informed with your reply
  9. Never involve in Forward Emails or Chain Mails
  10. Timely Reply and/or Acknowledgement – you must acknowledge and/or reply to the incoming Email in a timely fashion at least within 24 hours. If there is a reason for delay in replying, at least acknowledge the receipt of the Email writing “Thanks for your mail. I shall get back to you as soon as possible”. Not all mail servers rely/process the “Receipt Request” or “Delivery Request”. Hence the sender may not have an idea whether the Email was received by the recipient
  11. Check your spelling – spelling checkers are available with all Email editors. Check spelling before you send an Email. It is very much important in professional communications
  12. Use Email Signatures – you can add an automatic Signature with every mail. This is a professional way of communication. Personal communications do not need a signature
  13. Try to minimize the length of your Email. Consolidate what you wish to convey in a concise mail. All are busy in their world and no body has time to read a long story
  14. Use Bullet Points and/or short Paragraphs to highlight aspects in your Email wherever possible
  15. Avoid incoming text in your replies – wherever possible, avoid the original text in the incoming mail. This will keep the communication cost low as well as enable the recipients to go through the content easily
  16. Text Colour and Highlighting – in HTML and Rich Text formats, highlight the text using different colours depending upon the importance. Use highlighting and exclamation sparingly. Try to limit the number of colours to a maximum of three. It is desirable to have a Black (text) on White (background). All mail clients may not support text formatting
  17. Email Attachments – you may send Emails with attached documents like pictures, PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc. Zip files also would be sent as attachments. Check the maximum size that can be sent and received with an email
  18. Inform the receiver – sometimes, the receiver of your email may not have internet connectivity and hence miss your email which may be an urgent one. You may not receive a reply as you expected. Please try to talk to the person and let him/her know that you have sent a mail and waiting for a reply
  19. Use Auto-Responders – before proceeding on vacation or emergency leave, try to set up an Auto-Responder mail stating that you may be away from work. You can include a secondary contact list in case of your absence. The person sending a mail to you will be notified accordingly

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Born and brought up in Kerala, I did my schooling in Kerala and graduated (B.Sc Physics) from the Calicut University. I have worked with a Swedish Company from 1994 to 2015, as a Senior Project Manager in their Group IT Division in Dubai. This blog is the result of my strong desire to communicate with others, sharing what I know and what I could gather from various sources.


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