Home Consumer The New Phone Call Etiquette: Text First And Never Leave A Voice...

The New Phone Call Etiquette: Text First And Never Leave A Voice Mail


By Heather Kelly

Phone calls have been around for 147 years, the iPhone 16 years and FaceTime video voice mails about a week.

Not surprisingly, how we make calls has changed drastically alongside advances in technology. Now people can have conversations in public on their smartwatches, see voice mails transcribed in real time and dial internationally midday without stressing about the cost.

The phone norms also change quickly, causing some people to feel left behind or confused. The unwritten rules of chatting on the phone differ wildly between generations, leading to misunderstandings and frustration on all sides.

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.

These will vary depending on your relationship, your age and the context of the call. The closer you are to someone, the less the rules apply. Go ahead, FaceTime your mom with no warning while brushing your teeth.

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.

If you have a long juicy story you want to tell, consider sending it in a voice memo instead. It’s the best medium for a monologue.

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.

Continue reading

Join Our Newsletter

Sign up to receive news right to your inbox every day