We spoke to an etiquette expert and people of all ages about their own phone pet peeves to come up with the following guidance to help everyone navigate phone calls in 2023.
Don’t leave a voice mail
Voice mails are an artifact of the days before text messages. If you have information that needs to be communicated in an accurate, timely manner, you’re far better off putting it into writing as a text or email.
Most phones transcribe voice mails now, so chances are people aren’t even listening to what you said but reading a (possibly incorrect) text version instead.
Text before calling
Calling someone without warning can feel stressful to the recipient. Instead, text them ahead of time to ask if they’re free to talk now, if they can you call when they’re free, or if they can pick a time they’d like to chat. If it’s someone you call regularly, find out what their ideal times are, like after work or only on Sunday afternoons.
These steps are especially necessary for video calls. Catching someone on video at an unexpected time can be embarrassing for all involved. You should almost never start a FaceTime or other video call without warning.
Worried about texting etiquette? We’ve got you covered there too.
You don’t need to answer the phone
The responsibility isn’t only on the person dialing. Just because someone is calling you out of the blue does not mean you have to pick up. If you’re in a restaurant, using the bathroom or in a meeting, mute the call and get back to them at a convenient time.
To be even more polite, send them a text. Smartphones will let you send an automated text response when you can’t answer, which is handy if you want to tell them you can text but not talk or will get back to them soon. Consider adding a custom reply in settings or typing something fresh each time. The default texts can sometimes feel a little brusque.