phone etiquette

“Come Here” was the very first command spoken through the telephone, uttered in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell to his colleague Thomas Watson. Over the years, phone etiquette has evolved across the world, and each culture formulated its own unique way of greeting callers. Here are five different ways calls are answered across the globe:

1) “May Your Morning Be Good”

In the Arabic culture, greetings via the phone are full of praise, hospitality and warmth. After the initial greeting, it is common for the person on the other end to reply with “May your morning be full of light” – this type of friendly back-and-forth continues for a good amount of time before the reason for the call is revealed.

Consider how your conversations would change if they always began with friendly greetings. Would your calls be more or less successful? Would it change your outlook on the day or your attitude towards taking and receiving calls?

2) “Hello”

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This is the common way to answer the phone in both the United States and Britain. There are often variations that can vary depending on who the caller is (caller ID usually prompts more personalized answers). A business call may beckon a “Smith speaking” or a more curt “Yes”.

Do you think about how you’re answering calls? Do you find yourself using “Hello” or something else?

3) “Pronto”

In Italy the common way to answer one’s phone is Pronto, or “Ready”. The caller is actually the one expected to inquire who is on the line: “Who is on the phone?”. This is very different from the friendly, open and warm way calls are handled in the Arab world.

Have you ever had someone answer one of your calls with “Ready.” How would you respond?

4) ” “

You may be thinking, “there’s a typo here”, but you’d be wrong. In Russia, it’s common to say nothing at all when answering the phone. Being leery of talking on the phone, many Russians simply answer and wait for the caller to utter the first words. However, when they do speak it’s likely they’ll ask “Who is it?”.

5) “Smith” and “Mary Smith”

In Germany it’s common place, for both men and women, to answer a call by speaking only their last name. And, in Copenhagen you’ll hear both a first and last name when calling someone. Do you find it helpful when someone answers a call by sharing his or her name? Have you ever answered your calls this way?

For those doing business internationally it’s important to know the phone etiquette for those you’re doing business with. Additionally, considering the different ways people across the world engage via telephone can give you better insight into your own phone habits. Check out this helpful infographic on Worldwide Cell Phone Etiquette for extra pointers, and don’t miss RingCentral’s own infographic on the history of the telephone. (This cartoon, meanwhile, gives some insight into phone etiquette in a business context.) Stop and consider why you answer the phone the way you do and how those on the other end respond.

Or simply do what RingCentral’s social team does, and have fun with it!

phone answering