Answering business phone calls is a subtle art, as the lack of body language and constant commitments that may interfere with speaking time may impede the ability to have a clear and effective conversation. Answering phone calls from friends at work is even more of a challenge given the expectations of constant professionalism.
Answer phone calls from friends who are business partners poses an even finer line, as one must balance friendship with professionalism relative to your friend as well as your company.
Answer phone calls from friends from business partners with your regular professional phone greeting. At the beginning of the conversation, business topics should be in the foreground, and private content only at the very end. Avoid loud laughter or other conspicuousness.
Phone etiquette incorporates such scenarios and allows you to avoid the faux pas that may otherwise occur.
Simple Steps to Proper Phone Etiquette
Answering a phone appropriately at work has more to do with extending the professionalism you would like to extend to supervisors and coworkers to whoever is on the line.
The following recommendations help to avoid tension, lost business, or a generally unpleasant conversation:
- Answer the phone call as quickly as possible and ideally before the third ring.
- Answer the phone call with a polite introduction such as “Good morning, this is ______ speaking, how may I assist you?” Speaking with a smile, although not a requirement helps to foster a pleasant mood when answering a phone call.
- Speaking clearly and while avoiding slang or any technical language will help the listener to understand what you are saying so that they can convey any information or concerns appropriately.
- Address any concerns or questions positively, even if the person you are speaking with becomes irritated. Record all messages and information expressed in an accurate manner in case you need to refer to another person.
- If you can’t assist the caller, refer them to the appropriate person or connect them, making sure that you inform them that they will be on a brief hold.
It’s always a good idea to make sure that, when answering a phone call, you are not doing some other work, having a meal, or connecting the person to another party when they are unavailable.
Proper Etiquette When Speaking to a Friend While at Work
Speaking to a friend at work will depend on whether your friend is calling on a private or company phone line. If your company allows you to use a cell phone while at work, it’s a good idea to follow some simple rules while using your cell phone to prevent any complications or lapses in professionalism:
- Turn off any ringer or loud noises your phone may make so that you aren’t disturbing your co-workers or attracting needless attention.
- Don’t bring your phone into a meeting and don’t answer calls in the bathroom, as neither environment is very private, and, especially in a meeting, you will more likely cause a distraction.
- Ideally, have all calls go to voicemail so that you can check them and answer them at an appropriate time.
- Try and reserve phone use for essential calls, and answer any calls that you may receive during a break or during lunch and preferably in a private, quiet area.
These suggestions being noted, sometimes friends and family will still reach you and you may think it’s an emergency. In that case, answering a call by moving quickly to a break room will help to avoid distracting your co-workers or appearing insensitive to the demands of your job.
If a friend calls you on a professional line, try and keep the conversation brief and recommend that your friend not call you during working hours.
How to Answer the Phone When Your Friend Who Is a Business Partner Calls
It just may happen that you have friends throughout a specific industry or at a competing firm and you may come in contact with them throughout the working day. They may even be prompted to call you, whether for professional reasons or just to see how things are going.
The important thing is to maintain professionalism without coming across as cold, insensitive, or insincere as doing so will not only cost you your friendship but may also cost you a potential business transaction or even your job. If your friend calls and your friend is a business partner, you have slightly more leeway than if a friend who is not a business partner calls.
Answer the call with a professional introduction as noted above. Address any professional concerns your friend may have, even if your friend isn’t calling with professional concerns. When all professional concerns are addressed, feel free to indulge in the usually friendly banter.
But try to keep the conversation quiet and private while using professional language; doing otherwise may create an air that you are not concerned with the working environment. Having a short, 5-15 minute conversation is not causing concern as a friend who is a business partner may offer potential business or growth opportunities for your respective company.
In that case, a friendly conversation that remains professional in tone allows you to maintain your relationship but not at the expense of your professional one.
Maintaining a Good Business Partnership
There are many attributes to an ideal business partnership, primarily among them effective and professional communication. So long as your business partner is oriented towards creating and finding effective solutions for you or your collective companies’ problems, your partner is hard-working and fair, and your business partner is positive and shares your values, maintaining an open line of communication is an essential element to maintaining this positive relationship.
Unlike the usual phone etiquette, a phone call with a business partner allows some flexibility in content and conduct so that you can maintain a positive environment for all parties involved.
Since positivity is the key to productivity, you shouldn’t let your normal work expectations hinder you from maintaining a cordial relationship with your business partners, especially if they’re your friends.
So long as you find the right balance between personal and professional conversation, you can enjoy the benefits of chatting with your business partners whenever you’re at work and striving to succeed.
Katie Holmes is a senior author at everyday-courtesy.com with over 15 years of experience in marketing and psychology. As a freelance consultant, she also supports companies and executives in overcoming communication challenges. Katie is a passionate digital nomad working on her first book on the art of communication.