Phone Etiquette 101

Real Estate Broker/Owner with | Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time Licensed State of Oregon

Years ago . . . and I mean years . . . when I was in Jr. High (aka Middle) school, we had a "simulation" in our English class.

I'll never forget the lessons learned.

We spent two days learning about Phone Etiquette.

There was a speaker and two phones used during the simulation.  One phone was passed  to a student, while the other remained with the teacher. We would then get a business call on the phone (from our teacher) and the mock-conversations could be heard by the entire class.

It was then that I learned HOW TO TALK ON THE PHONE in a professional, business-like manner.

Thank you public education.

Today I received a call from an unknown.  I answered the phone professionally, "Good morning, EBA Portland, this is Carla." 

And whenever I get the "Yeah, I want to know about the house on 666 Evilcrest Pl," I brace myself.

I asked the caller "I'm more then happy to help, but can I get your name so I know whom I'm speaking with?"

She replied: "I'm a person . . .  who wants information on the property."  Her tone was totally snarky.

I told the woman caller in my Cupcake Carla voice: "I'm very sorry, but I don't give out information to anonymous callers" and then I disconnected the call.

The person on the other end would have FLUNKED my 7th grade Phone Etiquette class.

When you call a business, and want something -- LIKE INFORMATION -- please don't talk to the person on the other end without civility. 

When I get calls and people are just plain rude, I cut the conversation very short.

What I learned in 7th Grade English Class regarding Phone Etiquette:

  • Have a cheerful voice when placing or receiving a call
  • Let the person you called know the nature/purpose of the call
  • Say "Please"
  • Say "Thank you"
  • Don't be demanding, pushy

In my class, we went over different phone scenarios.  Had this caller been NICE, RESPECTFUL of my time when calling my business office, I would have been more willing to assist her.

But, she choose to be rude and her phone voice was not pleasant.  I was very content with disconnecting the conversation.


Last night I received a call from a very pleasant sounding young man.  He told me who he was and why he was calling.  TWICE, during our conversation,  he asked me if he was interrupting.  His was calling about a rental ad on Craigs List, wondering if it was a scam.  It was.   He took the time to thank me profusely for verifying what he thought.  He knew he was calling a real estate office and that he was only calling to obtain information.  He was NICE, he was appreciative of my time and I was happy to dig a little to verify his concerns.  

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Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results


Representing Buyers in the Portland Metro Real Estate Market | Clackamas Multnomah and Washington Counties | Since 1999

Carla Muss-Jacobs, REALTOR®, ABR, CEBA, ePro
Principal Broker/Owner

Direct: 503-810-7192 | |

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phone etiquette 101
please dont call me with that tone of voice young lady

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Chuck Mixon
The Keyes Company - Cutler Bay, FL
Cutler Bay Specialist, GRI, CDPE, BPOR

I don't think that class has been taught for a very long time in our public school now days.

Nov 13, 2012 11:36 AM #23
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


There is no reason to be rude to a person from whom you want information.  It doesn't make sense and the caller deserved what she got.

Nov 13, 2012 11:42 AM #24
Christina Sanchez Hood
Palo Alto, CA
#SiliconValleyHOODS | Inspired Living

Hi Carla, what a great post about phone ettiquette!  I truly think it is a lost art and should be reintroduced to the world :)

Nov 13, 2012 11:49 AM #26
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Carla, and that goes for real estate agents and builder site agents who answer "hello" and do not introduce themselves. And these people are old enough to know better. Great post!



Nov 13, 2012 11:59 AM #27
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad


This is so right on target these days, and it's not just consumers calling us but also other agents, and vendors. My pet peeve - people who do not answer their business line by letting the caller know who it is - they simply say hello.

You have to be careful about your tone of voice on the phone because without the visual cues your attitude in your voice really carries alot of weight and can send the wrong message. OR perhaps let the other person know really how you are. LOL


Nov 13, 2012 12:31 PM #28
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

When someone calls and asks for specific information on a property, I give it to them without asking for their name. There are some who do not want to share information until there is a comfort level.Do we make our callers feel comfortable?

BTW, I do not tolerate rudeness.


Nov 13, 2012 12:55 PM #29
Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl
Hallmark Realtors - Clark, NJ
The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate

Good morning Carla - great post! If only everyone had had the same middle school experience!

Nov 13, 2012 07:42 PM #30
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Wow, that sounds like a very useful class...they should have that everywhere.  Yes, that caller missed the well as several other lessons on treating people with respect.  Her loss...and I'm sure she's lost out a lot.

Nov 13, 2012 08:11 PM #31
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Thank you for the post. I often wonder why they do not tell us their name . I can understand not giving out their phone numbers.This is one reason I do not do fllor duty any more. 

Nov 13, 2012 08:22 PM #32
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Carla, This is like you've stated "middle school" education, not brain surgery. I don't really know what happenned to good manners and etiquette! Simple "Thank You" "Please" goes a long way. People are getting more rude each day and I don't believe one minute it's the fault of technology but has everything to do with your upbringing, morals and level of professionalism. There are many young people who have good manners and know how to speak and then there are some baby boomers who can't even give you their name in the conversation. Great Post!

Nov 13, 2012 09:24 PM #33
Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group
Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001 - Gaithersburg, MD
301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA

I can tell you that I experience that in a daily basis. . it is a qualifying test for me to choose who do  I want to work with. .

Nov 13, 2012 10:31 PM #34
Kathryn Maguire (757) 560-0881 - Chesapeake, VA
Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach

I am always amazed when I call an agent's cell phone and they answer "hello"....their cell phone is their business phone and should be answered as a professional.  Love this post!

Nov 13, 2012 10:53 PM #35
Jon Karlen
Finish Line Realty - Shelbyville & Louisville Ky Real Estate - Shelbyville, KY
Louisville & Shelbyville Kentucky real estate

Great stories.  I wish more people would learn good manners. It doesn't take that much effort to be civil/cordial to others.

Nov 14, 2012 01:01 AM #36
Andi Grant
310-508-4354 | - Los Angeles, CA
Helping 1st time buyers and home sellers in LA!

Ha Cupcake Carla - the name lives on!  Great article and I love that your middle school taught that.  Simple manners and etiquette is so lacking in the youth of today. 


-Signed Apple Pie Andi

Nov 14, 2012 02:05 AM #37
Robert Rucker III
Fairbanks, AK

Hello Carla,

Congratulations on being featured. I found your post a joy to read. It actually allowed me to go back in time. I actually learned telephone etiquette from my mother. Among many things she was the person that ensured that all bills were paid and was also a Sunday school teacher. So at a young age, I was first introduced not in a formal setting but just listening. In the military we learned a certain way to answer the telephone professionally, but not in the sense with a smile. I actually learned telephone etiquette top to bottom through reading. I later received formal class room training in a customer service class. I am still laughing about the "Cupcake Carla voice". My mom had one of those but I didnt know what to call it back then:) Just a great post. Thank you so much for sharing.

Nov 14, 2012 02:39 AM #38
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

Carla, well deserved post and I have to admit I've never had the nerve to disconnect a rude prospect but you've empowered me.  If someone isn't willing to give their name then they probably aren't very serious.

Nov 14, 2012 04:13 AM #39
Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker (503) 810-7192 | Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time - Portland, OR
Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results

@ Robert Rucker III (#38)  Thank you for the comment  I notice you are a relatvely new member of ActiveRain.  Keep commenting and let me know if you need any help getting wet.  I pushed a few people into taking the plunge.  Call me sometime, LOL.  My Mom also played a role in telephone etiquette -- I forgot that honorable mention :-(   She would tell us not to SCREAM "Hey MOM, Grandpa's calling" through the entire house.  LOL   Also, the "This is she" response when someone asks "Can I speak with Carla?," or "Is this Carla?" was from Mom.  Thanks for sharing and reminding me of MOM (WOW turned upside down).

Thanks for all the comments.  I never hang-up.  I do disconnect the call.  LOL

Nov 14, 2012 05:04 AM #40
John G. Johnston
John G. Johnston & Associates, LLC - Westcliffe, CO
An Exclusive Buyer's Agent ~ Westcliffe, CO



Congratulations on the feature post!  You are absolutely right to disconnect the call.  Do you make a comment when you disconnect?  I usually say "I'm hanging up now, thanks for calling.".  Etiquette and how to write a check are the only memories I can recall from the 8th grade.

Nov 14, 2012 11:21 PM #41
Frank Laisch
AmTrust Title Insurance Company - Chicago, IL
"The Insurance Guy"

Hi Carla, what a great post about phone etiquette! So many could use a lesson or two on about this.

Nov 15, 2012 08:37 PM #42
Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

Carla-I only know you from ActiveRain, but I find it difficult to believe anyone would be snarky to you. Good hangup decision.

Nov 18, 2012 02:32 AM #43
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