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Office Manners

When answering a call at the office and the caller asks for a co-worker or your boss, is it still polite to ask for the name of the person [who] is calling?

By
Adam Lowe

Today we’re pleased to have guest writer Trent Armstrong’s help answering a listener’s question. Pam writes:

When answering a call at the office and the caller asks for a co-worker or your boss, is it still polite to ask for the name of the person [who] is calling? It used to be considered impolite to just hand the phone to someone without telling them who was on the other end of the line. Now I'm told that it's impolite and a privacy issue to ask for the caller's name? I should point out that this is not a rule handed down by the employer. It seems to be a new rule created by a co-worker. I'm wondering if there is any validity to it.

Thank you,
Pam

Listener Pam asked about the rules for answering the phone for someone in an office environment. Specifically, she is curious as to whether she is invading anyone's privacy by asking for the caller's name? First of all, thanks to Pam for listening and taking the time to write in.

Secondly, a word of education to your caller: it is generally polite to state your name, your company if it is a business call and ask if you may speak to the person whom you are calling. You might say something like, “Hello, this is Modern Manners Guy from the Quick and Dirty Tips network. May I speak with Grammar Girl, please?” You also might first inquire as to the well-being of the answerer and if it is a business call you might also succinctly add the purpose of your call. If you know that you’re calling a direct line, you might begin by asking, “Hello, am I speaking with Grammar Girl?” and then continue with your introduction.

The other side of that coin is the greeting used when answering the phone.

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About the Author

Adam Lowe
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