Introduction > Table Manners > Telephone Manners > Professional Manners > Conversation > Social Skills > Conclusion
Introduction: The Importance of Manners
Manners are something used every day to make a good impression on others and to feel good about oneself. No matter where you are - at home, work, or with friends - practicing good manners is important.
Good manners are more than opening doors and writing thank you notes. While opening doors for others and writing notes is nice, true courtesy goes deeper. Being polite and courteous means considering how others are feeling.
If you practice good manners, you are showing those around you that you are considerate of their feelings and respectful. You are also setting standards for others' behavior and encouraging them to treat you with similar respect.
Every culture and individual may have different rules or feelings about what is polite or is not polite. The goal of this course is to review some of the more basic and common rules of polite behavior in our society.
These rules may differ from person to person or based on situation, but there is one rule of good manners (and life, in general) that is always easy to follow - do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Next: Test Your Manners! Take the test and see where you fall on the manners scale, then read more about some common "Do's and Don'ts" of manners.
Begin:Take the Test
- When talking on the phone in a public space, keep in mind that everything you say is no longer just your news. Keep your voice at "indoor voice" level, or lower. Generally, people with good manners don't talk about potentially embarrassing private issues in public.
- When on the phone, don't talk with others in the room. What's worse than having a phone conversation with one who chats, perhaps not listening to what you're saying, and you can't tell if they are speaking to you or others. If someone tries to talk to you, simply point to your phone and they will get the message.
- Avoid using the computer while on the phone unless it's part of customer services. It is extremely rude and unpleasant when someone makes you listen to a clacking keyboard.
- When with others in a social setting, try to refrain from using your cell phone. It implies you'd rather be somewhere else, with someone else, and that who you are with is less important.
- Don’t phone before 8:00 am and after 8:00 pm unless in an emergency or an important overseas call. Also avoid calling people during meals, work, and school. People don't expect you to drop in and visit at these times, unless it is arranged. This includes texting, though you would obviously not text for emergencies.
Ensure the number you have is correct. If you do disturb someone and it’s the wrong number then ‘please’ have the decency to say, “I’m so sorry! I have the wrong number!” DO NOT just hang up. That individual may be ill, in a wheelchair, or elderly, etc., so you should show respect and apologize for their inconvenience. Likewise, if a person with a wrong number phoned you, politely point out that they have called the wrong number.
Check your voice! It carries much more than just a tone, and reflects your character and personality even on the phone! Remember: your listener cannot see you, so your phone-voice becomes your facial expressions, gestures, personality, and character. Always check your voice when speaking; speak in a pleasant tone and very clearly. Smile through your voice! What they hear will make a positive or negative impression.
Practice basic conversational courtesy. When someone answers the phone don’t be harsh and abrupt by telling them what you want first. This confuses them and makes them wonder who you are. You also appear very rude, which is bad if you need a favor from them. It gives the wrong impression before you start! And don’t say, “Who is this?” You phoned them, so introduce yourself and state who you are and what you want – politely! For example; say “Hello, my name is Mrs. Peppermint, I'd like to speak to Mrs. Sally Lemon. Is she available?” If the person is not there, state to the person on the phone whether you will call back later or request they call you back. Or if you are making inquiries, state; “Hello, this is Mrs. Peppermint. I saw an advert in the local paper for a shop assistant; is that position still open?” When finished, say, “Thank you for your help. Goodbye” and be genuine! Now ensure you give them time to say ‘Goodbye’ too!
Give people a chance to answer their phone! They could be outside in their garden, knitting, baking, washing the car, or at another end of the house. Don't just ring three times and hang up! It's annoying when you stopped doing something and just as the phone gets to your ear the caller hangs up! In the other hand, do not let the phone ring for too long, the person you're calling might be busy or doesn't want to take calls at the moment and you might be interrupting. Especially when calling a cellphone, and the recipient is in a meeting, movie etc.
Don’t spend an hour (or hours) chatting to someone. Don't waste people's time or disturb the household! It’s one of the biggest turn-off’s to having a friendly chat! They will not want to talk to you again.
- If the call is for someone else, say something such as; “One moment please, I'll just go and call them for you.” Put the receiver down gently. If who they want to speak to is unavailable, say, “I’m sorry, Sally isn’t available right now. May I take a message for her and ask her to phone you as soon as she can?”
- In case of needing a restroom break, say something to get off the phone, without sharing too much information. All you really need to say is "Can you hold on for a few minutes? I will be right back."