Phone Etiquette at the Workplace: Do's and Don'ts
The following is an attempt to highlight the most common phone usage mannerisms at the work place.
1) When you are in a one to one meeting with someone (partner, client, boss, or mentor), switch off your cell-phone. This is to avoid the disturbances of receiving a call, checking out who it is and then taking a decision on whether to cut the call, let it ring or excuse yourself to answer it all while keeping the other person hanging in there. Unless you are expecting some life threatening news, addressing a call after some time wouldn’t make a world of a difference. This also helps you to avoid the temptation to play around with your phone to check messages or emails while in conversation. It shows you respect the other person’s presence and time.
2) At work, its best to keep your phone on silent or on a ringer set at a low volume. There can be nothing more annoying than being disturbed by someone else’s loud ringer while trying to get some work done.
3) Choose your ring tones wisely; you never know when and where your phone could ring and who the audience is then. Play it safe by selecting a tone minus any lyrics.
4) If you are the kind of person who does not answer personal calls at work, then ensure that your voicemail and message alerts have an acceptable sound set (like a single beep or double click etc.) and at a volume audible only to you and not the whole office.
5) Do not listen to voicemails (cell-phone or desk-phone) on speaker. The rest of the office does not need to know who called you and why.
6) If you need to make or receive personal calls on your cell phone, choose a room or step out for a while to have your conversation. You wouldn’t want your colleagues eavesdropping and neither would they want to be part of your negotiation tactics on who goes to pick up the kids.
7) When attending calls from your desk phone, try and keep the conversations short. If you anticipate that the call would be longer, excuse yourself and offer to call back from a meeting room in order to avoid disturbing others around.
8) Attend all business meeting phone calls from a meeting room or a place allotted to attend to business on the phone. Just because it’s a work related call, it does not provide an excuse for you to not use a meeting room. You are not the only one working.
9) However cool your colleague’s phone appears to be, do not just pick it up to play around with. Ask permission before touching someone else’s phone. With the advancement in technology, phones these days are like mini computers and do hold a lot of personal stuff on them. Irrespective of the advancement, it's not good etiquette to touch someone else's personal belongings.
10) When someone asks permission to check out your phone and you think you may have something private on it that you may not want to share or may need time to set-it-up, politely say “I’m sorry I have some personal stuff on it” or “Maybe in some time..?, in the mean while I can it set-up for you”. They should understand.
11) Most smart phones these days come with a camera, but that does not give you the license to click pictures of people without their permission. In fact some offices consider clicking pictures of the property or building layouts as breach of security too. So watch out.
12) Cell phone conversations in the bathroom. Hmmm…that’s tricky. There is an old joke on how one person said “hello” and the person in the other stall responded to that with a “hi” only to realize the first person was on the phone. Try and avoid such situations. Moreover you never know who is eavesdropping.