When There’s Value in Being Last

I’ll admit that this particular bit of advice sounds quite silly. For some of us, it evokes memories of delicious teenage telephone conversations that we couldn’t bear to have come to an end, so we fell into a game of “you hang up first – no, you hang up first – no, you hang up first.”

But when you have a customer or potential client on the phone, it’s the ultimate in telephone etiquette to allow them to hang up first.

Why? Here’s three reasons:

1. All phone calls (should) have a wrap up, a place where the conversation starts to wind down and both parties know, through language and pacing, that the call is coming to an end. However, it’s always possible that a customer will think of one last question and if so, here’s what happens:

Customer: “Now that I think of it, I’m just wondering … ”

You: “CLICK” 

By hanging up first you have unknowingly pushed the customer away, made them feel that you were in too much of a hurry to finish the conversation.

2. No matter what technology you are using – handset, headset, cellphone, VOIP – ending a phone call creates a noise (think of a door being closed). Ideally you don’t want that noise echoing in a client’s ear. It has such a finality to it – the opposite of “welcome”. Allowing them to hang up first avoids this altogether and it only takes seconds of your time.

3. I have, because I didn’t pay attention, allowed a potential client to overhear comments I’ve made to myself or others – I started talking before they hung up the phone. On one occasion, I expressed my disappointment about not getting the sale. Yikes! Very unprofessional indeed! I did phone the individual back immediately to apologize, but you can avoid this embarrassing scenario completely by letting them hang up first.

And that’s all my advice for this year, at least in this blog. My thanks to all of you for the feedback and comments. I really do appreciate it. For the next two weeks I’m going to share some seasonal tidbits with you but, come January, I’ll be back in phonework mode. If there’s anything specific you’d like to see here, please let me know.

One Last Thought:

“Do not wait; the time will never be “just right.” Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” — Napoleon Hill


0 thoughts on “When There’s Value in Being Last”

    • As soon as I started reading this post, I recognized myself as a premature hanger-upper. GASP!! Hadn’t stopped to consider the effect I might be making by overlooking this one tiny thing. Classic great advice from Mary Jane. Thanks. 🙂


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What's The Phone Lady doing?


  • Remote learning experiences + one-on-one coaching for women entrepreneurs (More info about this three-year program here.)
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