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I read somewhere that the cell phone is the first thing people list as their “must haves” in life. Smart phones certainly have made communication easier but have also isolated us and sometimes hurt business relationships because of the lack of face-to-face or voice-to-voice communication.

A good example is a simple phone call. Let’s say someone calls you and asks you to return the call and instead you send an email. Is this considered bad etiquette? According to my research, yes. It certainly might be easier to send email or text, but many consider it impersonal and inconsiderate.

Etiquette tip: If someone calls you and asks for you to call back, call back. Tone and intonation can be misread in an email or text. Your caller may have additional questions that require a conversation. While some argue that an email may be quicker, other times, it could take longer to communicate, as messages could be misinterpreted. Etiquette dictates that you should respond in the manner that the conversation was initiated.

Even if you have trouble connecting on the phone, you can leave a message and then follow up with an email. The key to success is simply to show consideration and follow up on the request.

Some may think that it’s best to have a written documentation of the conversation, and that is the reason to respond with an email. To that, I say that you can always follow up the conversation with an email for clarification and future reference.

A smart phone may be a “must have” in life. But a bigger “must have” is good manners, especially if we want to be considered smart in our business environment.

Suzanne Willis is the founder of Willis Consulting & Communications in Naples, which specializes in contemporary business, social and children’s etiquette.

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