7 Essential Telephone Skills

A telephone call consists of 3 major parts:

  1. Introduction: In which both the parties introduce themselves if both don’t know each other. If they already know each other, the call usually starts with a greeting.
  2. Purpose: They communicate about a topic or a problem that needs to be addressed.
  3. Conclusion:This is where the conversation ends after both the parties have solved the problem or they have discussed about the subject of the conversation.

Knowing how to answer the phone is an important skill! If you can answer effectively, “Congratulations!” But, if you are someone who wants to know the basic telephone skills, please read on as I have created a list of top 7 skills that you should develop to become better at answering calls.

(1) Positive Tone

Positive Tone
  • An important telephone skill is to speak in a positive tone. You and the caller can’t see each other, hence, speaking in a friendly tone becomes important.
  • A warm greeting will make the caller comfortable and she / he will talk more freely. Starting the conversation with a pleasant greeting is essential as it sets the tone of the entire phone call.
  • On the contrary, talking in a hurried voice or an annoyed manner will make the caller uncomfortable and nervous and the conversation will head in a negative direction.
  • Focus on talking in a positive, optimistic and a friendly tone with all your callers. This one quality will make you successful in telephone conversations.

(2) Clear Enunciation

Clear Enunciation
  • ”What?”
    ”Could you repeat?” If you are someone who hears this all the time while talking on the phone, you must focus on improving your pronunciation.
  • If the caller does not understand what you are saying, you won’t have an effective communication and the person might not want to talk to you again! I know it has dire consequences!
  • You should practice speaking slowly and enunciating each word. Don’t hurry while talking on the phone and even in face-to-face conversations.
  • Don’t speak so slow that the caller loses interest or completes your sentences. Speak at a pace of 140 to 160 words per minute which is the ideal speaking pace. Take your time, breathe properly and try speaking as clearly as possible.
  • Speaking clearly lets the caller to fully understand what you are saying and this makes the difference between a productive call and the one filled with confusion and tension.

(3) Listen Attentively

Listen Attentively
  • Another important telephone skill is to attentively listen to the other person. This is not only essential in telephone conversations, but, in face-to-face conversations, as well.
  • Listening to the person makes them feel valued. Without listening effectively, the message will be misunderstood which breaks the conversations down and the caller can become frustrated.
  • If you listen to the caller attentively, you will understand their message accurately, assess what is being said and come up with an optimal response or solution to their problem. It will make you look interested in the conversation, you will appear concerned about the caller and it also enables them to communicate fully and honestly.
  • Listening is one of the most important communication skills and possessing it will make you a better communicator. If you want to more about the importance of listening, please refer to the following websites:

(4) Do Not Interrupt

Do Not Interrupt
  • One thing that will frustrate the caller is continuous interruptions. If you interrupt, they won’t be able to share their message freely and this is one bad habit that you must get rid of! Immediately!
  • Interruptions will discourage the person to continue and they might hang up feeling frustrated. This will leads you to having ineffective conversations.
  • Letting the person speak without interruption is a crucial telephone skill that you should develop.
  • Speak only after they have completed their message and if, by mistake, you interrupt, apologize politely and ask them to continue. To have engaging conversations where both of you speak freely, it’s important to let each other complete what you have to say and then respond.

(5) Acknowledge The Caller

Acknowledge The Caller
  • When we have a face-to-face conversation, we acknowledge the speaker by nodding our head, smiling, giving facial expressions about how you feel from the message and so on to exhibit that we are engaged in the conversation.
  • But how will you acknowledge if you can’t see the person? The answer to that is, use phrases such as “Got it!”, “I understand”, “Alright” and so on. Use words or phrases to make the caller realise that you are with them and that you understand what they are saying.
  • If you zone out, didn’t hear the message clearly or don’t understand what they said, ask them politely to repeat. Use phrases such as “Pardon me!” or sentences such as “Sorry! I didn’t quite understand what you said!”, “Run that by me again!” and so on. Try to be polite while you ask the person to repeat.
  • If they have asked you a question, repeat it in your own words to clarify whether you understood the question or not. For example, if they ask, “I heard that your friend has scored the highest marks in the test. Is this true?”, you can rephrase the question as, “Did my friend score the highest marks?”. They will reply with a “Yes!” if you got it correctly. Upon that, you can respond.

(6) Pen And Paper

Pen And Paper
  • If the caller is sharing a list of things that they hope to get done or they are sharing some information, please note it down on a paper or in a notebook.
  • The most common scenario when a pen and a paper will come in handy is when they share a phone number with you.
  • Not only to note down phone number, you can keep a pen and a paper to write information that you are likely to forget soon. Writing it down ensures that you will not forget and enable you to prepare a suitable response.

(7) End Gracefully

End Gracefully
  • The most important telephone skill it to end the call gracefully! We focus so much on getting the message across that we forget ending the call is as important as having an effective conversation.
  • While hanging up, don’t just say “Bye”!, say something that will make the caller want to call you again.
  • I usually end conversations with my friends by saying the following, “Thank you so much for your time, Sunshine! It was really exciting to hear from you! Take care and hope to catch up again, soon!”
  • You can also use the above statements to sound friendly. It will make your callers feel valued and cared for! People never forget how you made them feel, hence, make it a habit to end calls gracefully by politely saying how you felt talking to the other person! In turn, they will share how they felt and this will go a long way in strengthening you rapport with them.

Dear readers, I have linked a few helpful resources for improving telephone skills. Please refer to them to know more about the importance of having these skills:

  1. 5 Tips for Better Telephone Skills
  2. Top 15 tips on how to improve telephone skills
  3. Effective Telephone Communication Skills

In addition to the useful links, please watch this helpful video:


  • Having a great conversation not only in face-to-face communication but also on the telephone is important. Knowing how to answer the phone is an important skill!
  • Below are the 7 basic telephone skills that you should develop to become better at talking on the phone:
    1. Positive Tone: Speak to the caller in a friendly and an optimistic tone to let them communicate freely and honestly.
    2. Clear Enunciation: Speak slowly and clearly to convey the message effectively and be better understood.
    3. Listen attentively: Listening attentively is important to clearly understand the caller.
    4. Do Not Interrupt: Do not interrupt the caller and speak only after they have completed their message.
    5. Acknowledge The Caller: As they speak, use phrases to let them know that you are listening. If you miss something, ask them politely to repeat.
    6. Pen And Paper: Keep a pen and a paper handy to note down important information.
    7. End Gracefully: Don’t just end the call by saying, “Bye!”. Thank them for calling and use phrases that strengthen the bond between you and the caller.

Happy learning!!!