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Telephone courtesy is one of the most powerful communication tools in business. If you want to use the telephone to advance your firm's business (and your career), follow these steps:

Greet callers warmly. Whether you simply offer a caller a cheery "hello" or answer with your name, smile when you pick up the phone. Callers can hear that smile in your voice.

Be patient. Not all callers are articulate over the phone. Let all callers tell their stories. Don't remain on the line in stony silence. Offer a few affirming words, like "I see..." or "I understand."

If it is necessary to put someone on hold, be sure to ask permission first. "May I put you on hold?" If the caller is waiting for someone who is on the phone, be sure to check back every 15 seconds to see if the person still wants to hold. This gives the caller the opportunity to leave a message rather than hang up.

If a caller is angry, you must stay calm. Try lowering the tone of your voice and speaking a little more softly.

Let the person talk, and do not try to place blame or take it personally.



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