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Which professions have the best and worst phone manner?

Lawyers, doctors, accountants and media people all demonstrate poor etiquette on the phone

That’s according to a study carried out by business telecommunications provider, 4Com. Human resources and recruitment professionals scored the worst, with 87 per cent admitting they have poor phone manners. In second place were media, public relations and marketing professionals, with 85% needing to shape up their telephone manner.

It would appear that sound communication skills are essential for the vast majority of professions. Yet, this research reveals that highly educated and experienced people are among the worst when it comes to dealings via telephone.

Lawyers fared a little better in the survey, with 82% demonstrating bad manners on the phone, while those working in the health industry – doctors, dentists and nurses – were in fourth place at 81%. A total of 77% of those who work in accounts admitted they have poor phone etiquette.

But when it comes to specific traits that people find annoying in the office, there are all sorts of bad manners. Over half of human resource professionals (58%) admit that someone playing loud music in the background is the most irritating. In second place are people engaged in conversation in the background (38%). In third place were those who speak too quietly (36%) and in fourth position, being put on hold (33%). Close behind at 29% is the irritant of people eating food or drinking while speaking.

Recommendations for professionals using phones to speak to clients include making sure the reception is strong and that the connection does not drop out. Other tips are to avoid being in a noisy cafe, restaurant or shopping centre, as it appears unprofessional. If the person making the call is not in a good emotional state, maybe having dealt with a difficult client, the advice is to leave the phone call to a later time.

Other annoying aspects include being telephoned outside working hours and expecting the matter to be dealt with there and then.

Mark Pearcy, Head of Marketing at 4Com, which carried out the survey, said the results were surprising, especially the number of people working in professional roles who admitted to having poor phone etiquette.

He said that as a call allows you to detect the tone of voice, this helps to avoid misinterpretation of written phrases. If you are guilty of demonstrating a poor phone manner in your working environment, all is not lost, as there are plenty of tips available and room for improvement.

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