If you’ve seen the 2003 holiday comedy film Elf, you know that Will Ferrell’s character answers an office phone with, “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?” This scene is so popular that it’s earned it’s very own Holiday: December 18, National Answer the Phone Like Buddy the Elf Day.
Buddy, having grown up in Santa’s workshop believing he’s an elf, has a valid excuse for his poor phone etiquette. However, Millennials in the professional world are not as easily absolved of poor telephone manners. In an era when everyday communication methods involve GIF keyboards, Snapchat filters, and group messaging, young professionals are poorly trained on verbal telephone conversations. If you fall into this category, consider these five guidelines for corporate telephone etiquette.
- Tone of Voice When speaking on the phone, your tone of voice sets your conversation partner’s first impression of you. During business phone calls, your goal is to come across as enthusiastic, yet serious. Try smiling while you speak – you’ll sound friendly and approachable.
- Informative Greetings When the telephone rings at your desk, pick it up promptly and greet the caller with information about who you are and what you do. Consider answering with something along the lines of, “Hello,
Telephone conversation aptitude is an important professional skill. You’re likely to gain more intelligence from a phone conversation than an email, especially if you need a favor or are trying to make a new contact. A voice humanizes all of us, and a phone conversation is much more difficult to ignore than an email. So, use the office telephone as an asset. Our best advice for Millennials on December 18 is to refrain from participating in National Answer the Phone Like Buddy the Elf Day, especially if it’s your boss calling.
Sharon Schweitzer and Emilie Lostracco co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide (3rd printing), was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.
Emilie Lostracco is a Fall 2017 Cross-Cultural Communication Intern with Access to Culture. The Montreal native is currently a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, studying International Relations and Global Studies. Emilie specializes in international environmental efforts, European studies, and French. She plans on graduating with honors in December. Connect with her via Linkedin.
Photo Credit: Daniel Foster, Flickr
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