Answering the phone seems like such a simple task, but the way that you answer the phone sets the tone for the conversation. If it's your boss calling, you don't want to answer the same way you'd answer a phone call from your spouse. Modify your phone greeting to reflect the situation.
One of the "safest" ways to answer the phone is with the standard greeting -- a simple "Hello."
If you prefer something a bit more formal, you might want to answer with, "Johnson residence" or "Hello. This is Sally." This identifies yourself to callers, so that they can be sure that they dialed the right number.
You must take extra care when answering your business line, as an informal greeting can put some people off. The standard way to answer a business line is to state the company name, your name, then ask how you can help the caller. For example, you might say, "Dahlia's Candy Shop. This is Betty. How can I help you?"
Most cell phones and some landlines now have caller ID, allowing you to instantly personalize the way that you answer the phone depending on the caller. You can simply answer, "Hi Mom" when your mom calls, but say, "What's happening?" when it's a close friend.
When you know the caller, you might prefer to answer the call in a funny way. One thing that you can do is answer as though you are the voice mail, by saying, "Hello you've reached Burt's phone. I'm not able to take your call ..." and see how long it takes the other person to notice that you've actually answered. Alternatively, you can pretend to be a restaurant or other business to confuse your friend.
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