Etiquette means the rules and conventions governing correct or polite behaviour in society in general or in a specific social or professional group or situation. Microsoft Encarta 2008 (1993-2007). With this definition in mind, telephone etiquette implies the dos and don’ts of telephone conversations, which in addition to general communication ethics embraces a heightened consciousness and consideration.
Since telephone communication is largely none visual, we all must put in an extra measure of suave and savvy. More so that we occasionally create first impressions with phone calls; we get to relate with people we have never or may never meet and we establish impressions. Aside of moderating the tone and pitch of your voice other niceties include.
Moderating Your Ringtone & Caller tone:
Your caller tone and ringtone should be friendly; your ringtone should not be too loud, obtrusive, suggestive or profane.
Minimizing Your Dropped Call Rate:
Some people deliberately cut a conversation mid-sentence, under the guise of network fluctuation. They may also give the impression that they ran out of credit. While this may occasionally occur, it should not become the norm. Sometimes a caller may do this with the intention of compelling the receiver to call back.
As much as possible, and baring any emergency, try not initiate a phone call if your credit is inadequate to convey intended message. If you are hard pressed to initiate the call, politely request the receiver to call back and wait for their feedback before you hang-up.
Management of Information Disseminated:
Have you ever received a call and the caller barrages you with details. Leaving you with inadequate time to assimilate or interpret the message. They bombard you with as much as say three hundred words in forty five seconds, then hang up with obtaining your feedback. Perhaps you do it too. A similar scenario is when the caller drops a one liner and hangs up, something like “send me recharge card”. The conventional norm in communication is feedback, so always make room for feedback.
Messaging in Shorthand:
Shorthand is not an entirely new concept but many overdo it, some text leaves one puzzled and uncertain what message was intended. Your intention in communication is to pass a message and be understood not confuse the recipient. Consider this, “the answer is convection”, and someone intending to pass this message across types in shorthand “d ans is cnvctn”
Please understand that cnvctn be misinterpreted as conviction, or convocation. As much as possible, minimize the possibility of misinterpretation. And please shorthand is a no no in formal and semiformal situations.
Modulate The Pitch of Your Voice:
Never raise your voice to an extent where a third party can clearly and effortlessly hear your conversation, if your background is noisy find a quieter place.
Read Your Environment (Background):
You should know not to pick calls at certain times, like when you are on a bike, in church, in a stadium, on the highway, driving using a blender, etc. Any communication in such a background will be fraught with endless repetitions and vocal strain. Politely reject such calls with a message committing to call back as soon as possible. And please, keep your word to call back.
Number of ring out:
Should you call and it rings out once, allow an interval of a minute and then call again, anything more than this could be disturbance. If possible, send a text message or chat explaining why you called and stating what you want.
For all I care the phone may be unattended to, owner may not be able to pick or is not in the mood to speak with you, there is no need to run down the persons battery with incessant calls. Expectedly, the person would call you back, when they notice the missed calls or whenever it is convenient for them.
Responding To Missed calls:
Should you leave your phone(s) unattended to and return to observe missed calls, you are expected to return the call or send a text message indicating availability and making enquiries as to the reason for the call.
Late night and Midnight calls:
Under normal circumstances do not call or text people late into the night, especially if such a one is married. Whatever it is can wait till morning. If you have not obtained prior permission from someone do not for any reason call them in the middle of the night. It is rude, discourteous and inconsiderate. I remember a colleague complain about someone obstructing his sleep just to say “hello”, the call barely lasted two minutes but he couldn’t sleep again till day broke yet he had to report at work the next day.
The only exception to this admonition is if it is an emergency.
Flashing used to be very rampant in the early days of mobile network rollout. Of all telephone nuisances, this probably ranks top. Flashing is also the most common place, no thanks to members of the flashers club. Flashing was bolstered in the incipient era of mobile telephone in Nigeria, as a result of the exorbitant call rates and the per minute billing system. People resorted to flashing as a sort of coded message or plea for call. And as always abuse was inevitable, now we have per seconds billing, low value recharge cards and cheaper calls rates but old habits die hard. Bottom-line, it is bad to flash incessantly, it is even worse to solicit one “you couldn’t even flash me”. Offenders should not return mankind to the prehistoric era of communicating in grunts, whines and groans. However, flashing can be tolerated as a distress signal.
Placing The Phone on Speaker:
If you phone is on speaker and a the conversation can be heard by a third party, be kind to inform the person at the other end of the line that they are no longer conversing with you alone. Failure to disclose this reality is tantamount to breaching their confidentiality.
Here, you make the call but the receiver takes over the discussion and does all the talking at your expense. Politely remind the person to hear you out and call you if what they have to say is that important. The rule of thumb also stipulates that the person who initiated the call, has the privilege to end the conversion and terminate the call. As much as possible calls should not be abruptly or summarily terminated when either party involved in the dialogue still has something to say.
Another disheartening occurrence is begging for recharge card, if you can’t maintain a phone do away with it. Imagine being asked to fuel other people’s cars, it is really unacceptable. However, if you really are in need, ask for assistance, just do not make a habit of it, and nothing stops you from recharging the mobile lines of your friends and families as well.
There are several occurrences that make up bad telephone habits, what might be acceptable in some quarters may be unacceptable in others. The degree of affinity may very well blur the lines of appropriate behavior. However you owe yourself the essential obligation of familiarizing yourself with the basic do’s and don’ts of telephone etiquette.