phone contact in small businessEven though people primarily stay in contact with each other by email – and in business, it’s become one of the preferred ways to stay in contact with customers, clients and suppliers – the telephone is still a very important mode of communication, and that’s why we should take care to ensure we’re being courteous.

Say Hello

This may seem obvious, but even if you’re calling a supplier to complain about something, correct phone etiquette dictates that you can at least greet the person you’re calling in a polite manner.

Don’t launch into a tirade or begin your conversation in an abrupt manner, even if you think the circumstances call for it. Instead, if you’re polite, or at least, civil, you may well find that you’ll have a more favourable outcome – people are less likely acquiescent when they feel threatened and defensive.

Introduce other Callers at the Get Go

Don’t three-way-call attack people. If you’ve invited other parties to listen in on a phone conversation you’re having with a supplier or customer, introduce that party at the start of the phone conversation.

Treat business calls the way you would a business meeting: you wouldn’t have a person secretly hiding in a cupboard during a business meeting, so don’t have someone secretly hiding in the background during a business phone call – especially if that person may later contribute to the conversation.

Don’t Secretly Record Others

The law is very clear about taping and recording people: It’s illegal unless that person gives their express permission for you to do so.

If, for whatever reason, you are going to record a phone conversation between yourself and a customer or yourself and a supplier, advise the other person at the beginning of the phone conversation, and make sure you record that person giving their permission to be recorded.

If you ever need to rely on the contents of this recording in court, it would be ruled inadmissible if you didn’t gain the person’s permission to be recorded beforehand – and worse, you may find yourself facing charges of illegally recording someone without their permission.


Despite the prevalence of email, there’s very much still a time and a place for telephone calls in business. As a general rule of thumb, you should always treat phone calls the way you would a face-to-face meeting or conversation. Don’t say or do things you wouldn’t otherwise say and do in person. For more tips direct from successful business entrepreneurs, consider enrolling in our Small Business Management Course.