Where Are Your Manners?

I would like to think that most of us know the proper etiquette for conference calls at this point in our careers, but every now and then it’s evident to me that a refresher course is needed. 

Two situations in particular stick out in my mind:

  • At the beginning of a weekly payroll call a participant was clearly talking to someone else in her office and said loud and clear “and I have this stupid call every week.” I was embarrassed for that person, and another caller quickly reminded everyone to make sure they were on mute.
  • Most recently I was on a call that had an incessantly barking dog in the background for the entire length of the call.  The moderators specifically asked whoever it was in that situation to put their phone on mute three separate times, but still we were subjected to Spot giving his opinion on the topic at hand as well.  This time I wasn’t embarrassed for the person, only annoyed by the disruption to the call. 

It got me to thinking:  where are our manners?  In today’s global world, conference calls, webinars and other virtual meetings are a necessity; however, the lack of visual representation makes it easy to forget that our actions still have an effect on our co-workers.  If you are asked to participate in a meeting it’s for a reason, so have respect for your co-workers and be present for it (and I don’t just mean dial in and then work on something else).  The meeting’s moderator has a purpose and information to convey.  They put work into the presentation, and it’s rude to disregard their hard work and not pay attention.  Focusing your time and attention on the matter at hand also ensures that you won’t have to ask someone else later on for a piece of info you may have missed.  

Last but not least always remember that the mute button is your friend.

Photo credit iStockphoto

About the Author

Heather Rose

Heather Rose, PHR is an HR Professional with over 6 years experience supporting top organizations' HR functions. In addition to her career in HR, Heather enjoys writing about her life adventures, reading and traveling. You can connect with Heather on LinkedIn.


Caryn Sarvich

I might also add when taking that conference call via speaker phone, watch the volume (phone and your voice) so everyone else in the department is not participating involuntarily. We have work to do too.


Hey – that dog was the strongest contributor on that particular call!


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