Cell Phone Etiquette (and Happy Administrative Professionals Day!)

In honor of Administrative Professionals Day (of which I am one), today’s post is all about cell phone etiquette. Anyone who sits at a desk and answers the phone as part of their job appreciates good telephone manners!

“Sheriff Taylor’s office, Deputy Fife speaking!”

What do you do when you receive a call from a number you don’t recognize? If you’re one of those who stare at the call screen, perplexed that this unknown person is calling, and then finally answer with a trepidatious “hello…” then this post is for you!

Here are two suggestions for handling unknown callers:

1. Don’t answer.

If you’re afraid of the unknown, don’t answer! Your phone won’t blow up if you let it go to voice mail. Promise. I know some people are leery of leaving their full name on their voice mail greeting, but even if you just say, “You’ve reached 123-456-7890, leave a message,” it will allow the caller to determine if they dialed the correct number. If they need a return call, they will leave a message. Otherwise it is safe to assume they either have the wrong number or will call again.

2. Answer with your name.

I know, it’s scary to tell a stranger your name. But it’s also the polite and helpful way to answer the phone. I always answer unknown calls with “This is Whitney.”  In my day job, I always appreciate it when I call someone about their account or invoice and receive a polite greeting that assures me I’ve dialed the right number.

Aside: Back in the 90’s when we all had land lines, my parents made me answer the telephone with “Cunninghams, this is Whitney.” I would love it if parents still taught their children how to answer a phone like that. If your child is unsure how to answer a cell phone, do some practice calls – have your husband or friend call your cell and let your child practice answering in a polite manner.

One other note about cell phone etiquette – if you’re the unfortunate soul who realizes the increasingly loud ringtone disrupting the church service is yours…silence it as quickly as possible. If you see by the name on the screen that it might be urgent, quietly walk out of the room and then return the call. Please notice I didn’t say “answer in a loud whisper, ‘Hello?? I can’t talk right now, I’m in church!” 🙂

How do you handle unknown caller ID situations? I’d love to hear!


8 thoughts on “Cell Phone Etiquette (and Happy Administrative Professionals Day!)

  1. Thanks for the PSA! I think everyone could use this refresher. I always introduce myself and when I was teaching I taught my students how to politely answer the phone. I’d give them partners and we’d practice phone etiquette. Then I would call their house in the evenings to see if I could catch anyone politely using the phone! It was a lot of fun and I’m HOPING the lesson stuck with them.


  2. I, too, say, “Hello, this is Denise.” That way the caller knows immediately if they called the wrong number. Also, sometimes those calls are the doctor’s number reminding me of an appt., and when they hear my name, they don’t have to then ask to speak with me!
    I had to smile remembering our telephone practice sessions! Fun times.


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