Things have changed significantly since I was a kid. Back in the day, we only had the black rotary telephones. We didn’t call our friends, WE WALKED TO THEIR HOUSE. Then when I got to about junior high, there were these fancy Trimline push button phones….now for us THAT was fancy…no more having to start over again when you were dialing your rotary and your finger slipped out and you hadn’t gotten all the way to the silver marker.Then when I was a teen, they started adding “teen phones”. People could get additional lines for their teens so the parents could use the phone once in a while. My family never got one of those …they were expensive. BUT When call waiting came out when I was in High School… wow! That was really fancy. (Living in England in the late 80s and early 90s seemed archaic. They were still on rotary and British Telecom charged per minute for local calls).

A lot evolved in a short period of about 10 years. Then the only big features for your house phone (land line) since the 80s has been 3 way calling, *69 and the Caller ID. In the mean time… those cell phone people were hard at work developing the newest phone technology.

Now… back to when I was a kid. When we called someone we had to say something like this “Hello, this is Charlotte, could I please speak with Shannon?” The answerer (is that a word?) would know who I was and who I was calling for. When people called our house and asked for someone with out identifying who they were we would ask “who is calling please?”. I also remember answering the phone “Butler residence”. In England they would answer the phone “Coventry 459-716″ …I know.. I keep talking about England… things are kinda different there. ANYWAY.. the parents taught  some phone manners when I was a kid.

I have passed this along to my kids and it seems like I am also having to teach their friends as well…”Hi is Hally there?”     Me: “Who is this?!”,    Katie: “UMMMmm…. Katie.”    Me: “Katie, you live 3 doors down from my house!! Walk down here to talk to Hally!” Click.    OR I get this    Kid:”hi…..”,    Me: “hi….??”,    Kid: “hi…”,     Me: “Who is this??”,    Kid: “Cory”,    Me: “Cory, when you call my house, say your name then tell me who you want to talk to.”,    Cory: “oh, well is Ashlyn there?”

I think that with the advent of cell phones and caller ID, kids think they are calling directly to their friends cell (or are just used to it) and that their ID is on their phone and they don’t need to identify themselves. My oldest is 14 now, she is still using the house phone to talk to her friends and the rest of us still answer the phone. I get all sorts of friends with no phone etiquette calling my house. If they have it, generally, they are not using it.

Parents, if you would like your kids to convert into business with some good phone etiquette and not sound like an idiot when they are answering the phone, teach them now. Teach them to identify themselves when they call someone, teach them how to politely ask to speak with someone. Teach them how to ask someone to hold on while they get the person …. “Hi, this is Charlotte, can I speak to Maria?”   Kid: “Hold on one moment please while I go get her”.

Then there is message taking. Teach your kids how to take messages. People still call on the phone for you, they should know how this works. Teach them to take the name, phone number (even if the caller says you should already have it) then date and time of the call with all the pertinent information.

When I worked in the corporate world I remember having to teach people how to talk on the phone. That is something basic that people should know when they start working. Answering the phone, taking a message and sharing information then at the end of the call SAY GOODBYE!. Some people just hang up the phone with out verbally closing the call.

Parents, teach your kids how to properly speak on the phone. It makes communication easier and it is impressive when they have this basic skill when they get into the work force.

I’m sure I’ll be back at some point to address etiquette for cell phones.. Grown ups, learn some manners!