Receptionist Tip: Relay a Caller’s Tone Tactfully

Reading time:
Telephone Operators
Photo from the Seattle Municipal Archives

We all know the impact tone of voice has on communication. The same sentence takes on very distinct meanings when uttered in different tones. Excitement, curiosity, sarcasm, fear, and hundreds of other feelings can be conveyed with a simple fluctuation of voice. The message conveyed by tone of voice is just as important as that conveyed in words, and sometimes more so.

As a receptionist, it’s important to convey both your caller’s message and tone of voice, especially if a caller’s tone seems negative. But it’s best to do so without using terms that could be construed as judgmental. At Ruby, our virtual receptionists are skilled in the art of relaying tone tactfully. Here are three key tips from our telephone answering experts:

Share what you hear. If you perceive that a caller is angry or upset, you’re probably correct. It’s always best to relay a caller’s heightened emotions when you pick up on them. Describe your perception of a caller’s mood when it stands out, but

Skip negative descriptors. We hope you never field calls from unhappy folks, but if you do, describe their tone carefully. Stick with phrases like “he seems frustrated” or “she seems upset.” Sure, your caller may be persnickety, grumpy, or downright rude, but using judgmental terms can get you into trouble. After all, the person on the other end of the line could be your boss’s mother, and we’d hate to call her a grouch, right?

When the going gets tough, quote.  Euphemisms are great when the occasion is right, but if a caller conveys something dire, don’t pare it down. This is especially important when taking messages. If a caller says “I need to hear from him tomorrow,” that information should be relayed. Don’t worry about paraphrasing — instead, quote the caller directly. This message does the job:

     Jim seemed frustrated, and said he “needs to hear from you tomorrow.”

This message misses the mark:

     Jim seemed frustrated.

Do you have any tips for relaying a caller’s tone tactfully? We’d love to hear from you!

Additional reads you may find interesting...

View All

Reflections on fallout

Square title card with circular-cropped head shot: The art and challenge of business services, Justin Dunham, ércule
Small Business Tips

The art and challenge of business services—with Justin Dunham of ércule

Customer Feature

Ruby customer feature: Rapid resourcefulness with Ashton Taylor

Small Business Tips

Forced changes and success with Loren Feldman

Small Business Tips

Get more clients like that one. You know the one.

Small Business Tips

Business live chat: Have your cake and eat it too.

Small Business Tips

Small business resourcefulness with Loren Feldman

Small Business Tips

Omnichannel customer experience: what it means and how to do it right

Small Business Tips

[Infographic] The #1 secret of successful law firms.

Small Business Tips

Use Ruby to schedule appointments and save time.

Small Business Tips

Automated lead capture: Why you need it and how it works.

Small Business Tips

[Infographic] Telehealth in 2021 and beyond.

About Ruby

This Women’s History Month, #ChooseToChallenge with Ruby.

Small Business Tips

PPP loans have relaunched in 2021—with an exclusive application window for small businesses.

Small Business Tips

Too many customers? Here’s how to make a spike in demand work for you.

Try Ruby Risk Free

Call to talk to a live virtual receptionist and hear why 10,000+ companies Ruby.

Call Ruby Sign Up
Sales Support

Already a Ruby customer?

Let’s get started.

Ready to turn more callers into customers?

Missed connections translate to lost revenue. With Ruby, you have a partner in gaining and retaining customers. Plus, we’re so confident you’ll love our service, we offer a 21 day money-back guarantee*.

*Ruby is delighted to offer a money-back guarantee to first time users of both our virtual receptionist service and our chat service. To cancel your service and obtain a full refund for the cancelled service (less any multi-service discount), please notify us of the service you wish to cancel either within 21 days of your purchase of that service or before your usage exceeds 500 receptionist minutes/50 billable chats, as applicable, whichever occurs sooner.