Speaking English - How to answer the phone
How to Answer the Phone Correctly
When the phone starts ringing, there are many possibilities. The person on the other end could be a potential employer, a friend, a family member, a scam artist, or a solicitor trying to promote a product. That means that there is no absolutely "correct" way to answer the phone, but there's a general order things should follow.
Understand the environment you're in.Are you at work? Are you at home? Are you outside? Where are you?
- This is an important part of answering phones, because if you're at work, chances are there's a protocol to follow or there are calls you probably shouldn't be taking (such as those from a friend or family member, seeing as the phone should be restricted to customers or clientele). You might not want to be too loud, and of course, a professional manner is a given.
- If you're at home, it's a different story, but there are still things to consider. Is it loud? Is it your cell phone or home phone that's ringing? You may need to take the call outside to make sure both parties can hear each other, especially if you want to be courteous to the one calling and those around you. If it's your home phone, and you have family or friends or otherwise living with you, the call may not necessarily be for you. If everyone is out and you happen to know the call is for your mother or your roommate, take the call if you have to, but evaluate on your own whether answering the phone yourself is wise.
- If you're outside or in a building, then the situation can greatly vary. If you're in the middle of having a conversation, decide quickly whether the call is worth the disruption. If you're somewhere where silence is key or answering the phone is impolite, try to turn off the volume and put off answering unless absolutely necessary.
Try to identify who's calling.
- First is the caller ID. Sometimes it simply says "Unknown," or gives a name or business you don't recognize, but it may also be familiar. Is it a friend? Is it your internet service provider or your work?
- Second is the phone number itself. If the caller ID didn't give you an idea, then does the number? Have you changed phones recently, and forgotten to add this person to your contacts? Is the area code local, or is it the area code of a distant family member or friend who might be calling? Is it a number that has been calling you a lot recently?
- It's also true that over-thinking it isn't necessary. An in-depth study will only let the call go to voicemail. Quickly look over the ID and the number, and decided whether or not you want to answer. Sometimes it's best to answer quickly, such as for business or because you know that person only calls when it's an emergency, and sometimes you might want to let the caller wait a second longer for tactical or situational reasons, such as trying to not appear overly eager or because there is something you have to do first.
Should you choose to answer the phone, say, "Hello." If you've got a form to follow, of course, you might say, "Hello, you've reached the So-and-So Business, how may I help you?" Starting with a greeting is the right way to go. You don't need to provide information about yourself right off the bat. Also, asking direct questions as soon as you pick up isn't good, either--for example, asking, "Who is this?" or "What do you want?" may alienate the caller, and if not, are rude nonetheless. You haven't necessarily had the time to figure out what the other person wants. If you give them the chance, they'll probably tell you.
Listen to what the other says and act accordingly.
- Judge the situation. If your friend needs help with something, work towards a solution. If it's about something that's been misunderstood or about something you might've done wrong, clear up the problem. If it's a solicitor that has been calling every day, and you recognize the pattern as soon as they start to talk, politely decline any suggestions or advertisements and ask to be put on the Do Not Call list--unless you are genuinely interested in what they're saying and you're certain it isn't a scam.
- Decipher the caller's emotions and control your own. Sometimes you're angry with the person calling, or they're angry with you. Sometimes they're sad and seeking comfort. Sometimes they just want to have a fun conversation. How you respond is all about basic social skills. Don't antagonize someone who's angry, and don't disregard someone who's sad. If you're mad that someone is plaguing you with phone calls, calmly request that they stop calling, or report the harassment if it doesn't end.
Keep your surroundings and your situation in mind.This is critical as related to several factors.
- Think about how long the call should go on. If you're keeping someone waiting, or you're in the middle of something relatively important, it doesn't mean you can't be polite with the caller, but it also means you can't let the call take away precious time. Try to steer the conversation in the right direction if need be. If you have work obligations or something else you really need to be doing, even though the caller may be a friend and the conversation is enjoyable, you still have responsibilities that you need to fulfill, and it's important not to forget them.
- Think again about where you are, just like you did before you took the call. Have you ever encountered someone who you think is obnoxious because they won't get off the phone? Maybe they're in your way, or you have business with them--the point of the matter is, what you want or need is being obstructed by this person on the phone. Try not to be that person. Make sure not to stand in front of doorways or entrances, because people might want to get by, and if you're in a setting where someone might approach you for help or consultation, or just to talk to you in general, be polite to both parties. Don't make people wait too long; whether they say it or not, most don't like waiting, and become frustrated. This leaves a bad impression.
All calls end.You've already decided who's calling, you've learned their purpose and rolled with it, and you've balanced your time and kept an eye on your surroundings. When the call ends is usually up to you, although not always. The key is to how you end it.
- Wrap things up. Make sure all questions have been covered, all necessary information gained or given. If you or the caller want to schedule another call or a meeting, this is generally the time to do it. Share and solidify plans so there's no confusion. Are you going to consult this person again at a later date? Do you have a reason to meet with the caller? Maybe you want to schedule a dinner, or discuss who's going to be taking care of your mother that weekend, or confirm when you are supposed to come in for a shift at work. This is the time to make things clear.
- End the call, hopefully, on a positive note. Hanging up suddenly might miff the other person, especially if they're prone to get easily irritated. It's simply rude, and though sometimes you might want to be rude, it's best just to stifle the urge. Say "Bye" or "See you then" in more informal situations, but sometimes a "Thank you for your time" or "I look forward to speaking with you again" are more appropriate. Sometimes being wordy and spending a second or two longer in ending the call is the right way to show you care.
- Calls aren't always set to follow a formula, even though wikiHow is all about a concise series of steps. In a sense, expect the unexpected. Remember all the question words--who, what, where, when, why. Who are you talking to? What are you planning on talking about? Where are you? When should this call end? Why are they calling? This is the logical assessment of the situation. But, to a certain extent, trust your feelings, too.
- It's common knowledge that giving away private information isn't wise unless you're absolutely certain you can trust the one you're giving it to. It's a simple thing, but just be careful.
Video: How to Answer the Phone Correctly (Training Video)
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