While the best rule of speakerphone etiquette is to avoid using the speakerphone option altogether unless it’s absolutely necessary, sometimes, unfortunately, it is necessary. In those cases, following a few simple rules of etiquette can prevent potentially embarrassing moments.
Find a Private Room
Don’t put a caller on speakerphone unless you have a quiet place to take the call. If you’re in an open office setting, it’s rude to both your fellow coworkers, who will be distracted by your call, and to the caller, who will be distracted by the noise of your office, to put a call on speakerphone. If you are in public, either walking or sitting at a cafe or restaurant, avoid putting someone on speakerphone if at all possible. The caller won’t want strangers hearing the conversation, and those around you won’t want to hear your conversation.
Never put someone on speakerphone without asking his or her permission. Before putting them on speakerphone, inform them of whom else in the room and which, if any, of the other people in the room will be actively participating in the call. If the caller hasn’t met any of the other people in the room before, make appropriate introductions. If not all the participants have met before, it may be helpful to have each person say their name each time before they speak so that everyone knows who is speaking when. If the conversation is long, this convention can normally be dropped after a certain period of time when everyone’s voices become familiar to each other. Inform the caller if anyone new enters the room during the course of the conversation or if any of the participants leaves.
One of the benefits of the speakerphone option is that it allows you to do other things while you are speaking on the phone. This is also the greatest pitfall of the speakerphone. If the person you are talking to senses that you have become distracted from the conversation, or if you fail to answer a question or make a comment in an appropriate amount of time, they make become highly insulted. This can have disastrous consequences in the business world. Nobody wants to feel like you think that you are too busy or important to pay adequate attention to him or her on the phone.
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