Professional phone and e-mail etiquette


Maintaining a professional voice when communicating in the workplace is crucial, especially when corresponding with superiors or new clients or colleagues. Use of e-mail and phone calls greatly enhance our communication reach and enable us to quickly respond to a task. Like in-person interaction, e-mail and phone conversations have social conventions to follow.

E-mailing has become a fast and effective way to communicate with others. Times to use e-mail over other forms of communication are:

  • When the material is not time sensitive
  • You need a record of your correspondence
  • You need to share files
  • There are multiple recipients

It is important to remember that e-mails are not private, anyone can access servers and view them. For this reason, you should not include confidential material in any e-mails you send. With this in mind, it is also relevant to remember not to overshare or overwrite information for timeliness and privacy reasons. An e-mail is not a letter, it does not need to be long or detailed with excessive punctuation and formatting, shorter sentences and straightforward language are best to effectively communicate your point. The tone of the e-mail is often dictated by your use of punctuation and capitalisation, make sure the sound or “feeling” of your e-mail is in the tone you wish to convey. An example is the use of a full stop (.) often represents anger, frustration or impatience if used excessively. If an e-mail is particularly short, use the subject box for the content by writing EOM (end of message) with your statement.

Phone calls are the best way to contact a person when:

  • Information is confidential
  • The subject is time sensitive
  • The correspondence is formal

When on the phone for business reasons, keep your tone professional and polite, you can help this by staying focused on the call and not multitasking, this will help with concentration and clarity. Speaking clearly is a must as phone connections can sometimes be poor. For this reason, always double check information you have received to confirm all details are correct.