You call a friend and her 12 year answers the phone with a melancholy “Hullo.”
You kindly ask, “Is your mother available?”
The inevitable response: “Yeah.”
(Silent pause…) “May I please talk to her?”
“Sure.” “Mommmmmm!!! Some lady’s on the phone for you!!!”
Does this conversation sound all too familiar? Thankfully, there’s no need to be embarrassed before you get to the phone, for children are easily able to learn how to respectfully answer and take or leave a message on the telephone. Children who learn respectful phone manners at a young age will have a valuable skill to carry with them into the adult business world!
Here are a few helpful phone habits to instill in your child:
1) Answering with a Smile
Most children don’t realize that simply smiling when they answer the phone will make their voice sound cheerful and friendly. To demonstrate the difference a smile brings, cover your face and pretend to answer the phone, first without and then with a smile. Ask your child which sounds more pleasant.
2) Going Beyond “Hello”
In this day and age, it’s important to train children to never give extensive personal information about themselves or their family members over the phone. However, this does not mean that a phone greeting can’t be respectful! Why not instruct your child to answer with a friendly, “Hello, how may I help you?” or “Hello, this is Amelia, how may I help you?”
3) Taking a Message
Children are so transparent they will just blurt out without thinking, “Mom is in the bathroom right now and can’t talk.” To avoid this embarrassing situation, explain to your children that if you are in the shower, outside, or in another place where you can’t come to the phone they should say “My mom is not available at the moment, but can I take a message?”
When the heat of the message-taking moment comes, it may be easy for your children to forget the vital information they should record. Having a pen and several sheets of paper printed with fill-in-the-blanks for the person’s name, phone number, and time of call will help them get over their jitters and ensure that you don’t lose any valuable information.
4) Bringing the Phone to Mom or Dad
Your children may know how to respectfully take a phone message when you are not available, but do they know how to do so when you are? Here are a couple of polite steps to follow:
- Instruct them to answer with, “Hello, how may I help you? Yes, one moment please, who should I say is calling?”
- Make sure they cover the mouth piece as they carry the phone to block out unwanted background noise.
- Respectfully bring the phone to you and quietly say who is calling – without making any impolite remarks or commentary!
Having your children learn to answer the phone respectfully and politely now will not only make your friends happier when they call, but your children will also stand out in years to come because they have the life skill of taking a call with confidence!
Bethany Miller is the founder and director of Doors of Success School of Etiquette. A graduate of the prestigious American School of Protocol in Atlanta, Georgia and licensed by the renowned Protocol School of Washington, Ms. Miller is a teacher passionately seeking to encourage a revival of kindness and politeness in American society. For more etiquette tips, check out her course offerings and follow Doors of Success on Facebook!