Check your lines: Phone courtesy is sign of a professional

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Ruben Gonzalez
  • 71st Flying Training Wing command chief
Next to e-mail, we use the telephone for conducting most of our day-to-day business. A telephone call requires courtesy and interaction to be successful. 

Some of our Team Vance members have a natural gift for answering the phone. They make you glad you decided to call. You can hear a smile in their voice and they make you feel like the success of their day depended on your call. 

We also have a lot of professionals who, while not naturals, have clearly practiced their telephone answering techniques. They identify themselves, their unit and ask how they can be of service. While you may not feel the warmth, you know whatever you need will be taken care of. 

Here is some advice to help check your lines on telephone courtesy. 

Before picking up the phone, put a smile on your face. That smile will come across in your voice and sets a positive tone for the conversation. 

Identify yourself and where you work. If the caller has misdialed, they can end the call quickly, saving both of you time. If they have the right number, they know immediately and can get down to business. 

Always have paper and pen ready when answering the phone. Take down the caller's name and unit. Nothing is more frustrating to the caller or more embarrassing to yourself than forgetting who you are talking with in the middle of the call. 

If you need to refer the caller to another number, use the three-way calling feature to transfer their call. Before you do, tell the caller the number and person you are transferring them to, just in case the transfer doesn't work. That way, they don't have to call you back and start over again. 

When talking with someone on the telephone, give them your total attention. Don't try to finish an e-mail at the same time. Don't attempt to talk with a person who stops by your desk after you picked up the phone. Focus on the caller. 

Most of these rules of courtesy pass over to cell phone use as well, especially if it is a government issued phone. 

And please don't even think about talking on your cell phone while driving on base. If your car is safely parked or you have a hands free device, you are legal to talk. But it seems to me that you can't be fully concentrating on driving safely if you are focused on a phone conversation. 

There are some hard and fast rules for carry and use of cell phones while in uniform, and some suggestions that will keep you in good stead with folks around you. 

AFI 36-2903 clearly states that you will not use your cell phone when walking in uniform unless required in the performance of official duties using a government issued device.
You can wear the cell phone, pager or personal digital assistant clipped to the left side of your waistband or purse or carried in your left hand -- and only one at a time. 

The device must be solid or covered in black, silver, dark blue or gray and be of a conservative design. 

Be considerate of others. Turn your phone off or put on vibrate before meetings or gatherings. If you receive a call that must be answered, excuse yourself from the room. 

Thanks, Team Vance for checking your lines.