phone etiquette (possibly lame)

This applies to people who call my place of employment…

  1. Stop yelling!!! You may be deaf but I’m not.
  2. Don’t mumble, whisper, or hold the phone 12 inches from your mouth, or whatever the hell it is you’re doing that prevents me from hearing you.
  3. Don’t call from your cell phone and tell me to “hurry up” because you’re roaming.
  4. Put down the screaming brat before attempting to talk to me. Another ear-piercing screech and I may have to rethink #1 above.
  5. Call me when you are ready to talk to me. It’s extremely irritating (and a waste of time) to answer the phone “____ Public Library” and then have to wait for you to finish another conversation. (multi-tasking is fine; this is not)
  6. Don’t call me and ask “Why did you call me? I saw your number on the caller ID.” I probably didn’t and it’s not practical for me to visit each of my co-workers in their various depts. and ask each of them if they called you. Besides, we leave messages.
  7. Please have your card number ready when you call. It is against our policy (and a violation of state law) to acces your record over the phone w/o your card number: not your name, not your address, not your SS#. Do not tell me we did it for you last week; I know we didn’t. Going over my head will not work with this one, and you will be disappointed.

Aside from that… have a nice day. :slight_smile:

Phone ettiqute for calling my home.

If you’re going to leave a number on my machine. DO NOT SPEAK MORE QUICKLY WHILE GIVING THE NUMBER!

Speakerphones. Y’all forgot about speakerphones. No phone rant is complete without a mention of them.

And I’m gonna have to echo Odinoneeye. I personally try to leave my phone number TWICE on an answering machine.

  1. Don’t ask the same question twice.

“Is Mr. Johnson there?”
“He’s not in right now, can I take a message?”
“Does he have a cell phone?”
“No, I’m sorry - he doesn’t”

Objection - asked and answered.

  1. Phone numbers are grouped in the format (xxx)xxx-xxxx. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT group them differently, e.g. “My number is 90…95…5512…4” or whatever. Oh, and this isn’t the 1940’s - unless we both live on the same block, you pretty much need to leave your area code.

I agree with all the others but what am I supposed to do here? I realise it’s annoying for you, but about half of unkown numbers I receieve are from people I know, and would like to call back. I’m polite and if your answer to ‘do you know if there’s any reason I’d be called from here’ is ‘sorry, it could be anything’ then I apologize for wasting your time forget it.

On preview: you say they leave messages. OK, then I shouldn’t ring back.

Thank you. And please say each digit individually. Your phone number is 410-123-4567, which means you say: (Four-one-zero), (pause) one-two-three, (pause) four-five-six-seven.
NOT a rapid-fire: (Four-ten) One-twenty-three, forty-five, sixty-seven.

Here’s one of my big phone pet peeves:

If you call me and I’m not home, please, don’t call 6-7 more times! I won’t get home any sooner to call you back, no matter how often you call. Just call once, and leave a message. I have caller ID and an answering machine, so I will know you’ve called!

No we do not have voice mail! (My office is so Twentieth Century sometimes.) You do not need to have a stroke about that fact. Saying really loudly:


will not cause voice mail to magically appear.

And while we’re at it, No, I cannot tell you at what precise, exact time so and so will return your call. I am not in charge of telling people when to return calls. Get over it. I also have no idea why your call hasn’t been returned. I will, however, gladly give the person another message and state, please call asap on the message. I will not go stand over said person and make him/her call you. (Though that does sound like a fun job. I could be the office phone nazi! Sigh, another dream career I’ll never have. :D)

When you call me, don’t be having a conversation with someone else when I pick up the phone. If you want to talk to me, call me. If you want to talk to someone else in the room, talk to them.

“May I take a message?” means give me your name, phone number, and what the call is in reference to. It does not mean give me your entire life story with seven variations.

Turn down the TV before calling me. If I can tell what show you are watching just by the voices IT IS TOO LOUD!
“Hello, Dr. Blah-blah’s office.”
“May I have your name, please?”
“May I have your name, please?”

Why? Don’t you think that they would have left a message if it was important? This one really baffles me, and I hate it, hate it, hate it when people call just because our number appeared on their caller ID.

Caller ID is designed to prevent your taking calls from people you don’t want to talk to. It’s not designed to force people to leave a numerical message for you, whether or not they want to, and it’s bad form to use it as such.


Well, it doesn’t force them to, as people can withhold the number if they don’t want to get called back.

For some reason I’m always embarassed to say “Hi, just wanted a chat, but you’re out.” And for that matter I do have to pay something to leave a message. Maybe it would be better if everyone left messages (including companies phoning me for whatever reason) but surely some of the blame goes to the people in your company who ring, leave a number, but no message? (If they don’t, then this doesn’t apply, never mind)

Or maybe I’m just evil for being curious about who’s called me.

As near as I know, people I work with don’t call, leave a number, but no message. However, they may call, discover someone’s not home, and not leave a message, either because it’s a personal matter (perhaps someone has bounced a check, or maybe they’re being investigated for animal cruelty), or because the person is unlikely to return a message (see above).

In any case, whatever their reasons for not leaving messages, it’s useless for someone to call back and ask who called them. I don’t know, and damned if I’m going to go track down everyone in my office to ask if they called this number. I’ve tried it a few times, and it never works: nobody remembers calling them.

Furthermore, it’s silly to put the onus on us to block caller ID: as a quasigovernmental organization, we can’t hide who’s calling. People who want to use caller ID properly – i.e., to decide whether to take a call, and to identify crank callers – have a right to use it that way.

Again: if staff wanted to leave a message, they woulda. If someone doesn’t leave a message, please don’t call them back. It’s annoying.


Be succinct. If you can hear the other four lines in the background ringing off the hook (and you can), don’t repeat yourself, tell a joke, etc. Shut up and have a nice day!

On behalf of my girlfriend:

If you call, and it is a life or death emergency you are calling about, and your continued existance on this planet hinges on a timely response, and you leave a message, identifying yourself as “It’s me” doesn’t cut it. There is a reason the answering machine asks for your name and number.

Do not eat while on the phone. Chomping and smacking in someone’s ear is just the height of disgusting rudeness.

“No, Dr. So-and-So will not phone and check in with me.”

“But in case he does…”

“He wont.”

“But just in case he does…”

“He hasn’t once in the past 6 years.”

“But if he does…”

“Look, not only do I not work for the man in the capacity you seem to thing (ie. secretary), I don’t work for him in ANY capacity. Unless he’s developed a crush on me since I last saw him 2 days ago, HES NOT GOING TO PHONE ME!!! Really.”

I realise that I may lose out on the Call-Waiting showdown. That’s fine. It may be an emergency, a long-distance call, an old friend you haven’t spoken to for months. No worries!
But please, please, please switch back to me for three seconds and say “I need to take this call. I’ll call you back when I’m done.”
There are many things more annoying than waiting for half an hour for you to click back over (though I usually hang up after 10 minutes), but none ever come to mind when it’s happening.

Please have a pen(cil) and paper with you and ready to use before you dial the phone. Test the pen before you dial to be sure it works.

If you are calling about a piece of correspondence that we have sent you, please have the correspondence in your hand before you call. Please read the entire letter before calling, rather than getting as far as the telephone number and stopping.

Do not, immediately upon my answering the phone: a) start talking; b) yell at omeone across the room; c) ask me to hold so you can take a call that beeped in on your call waiting.


I hate call waiting. There is nothing in my life that requires me to know that someone is calling me. I’m most certainly not going to put someone on hold in order to talk to someone else - not in my home anyway. Work is a different animal.

Unfortunately, it’s part of the “package” for our phone service. So I just listen past the call-waiting beep while I’m talking. I’m good at ignoring stuff if I have to.