Phone technology has evolved over 147 years, from the first phone call to modern features like real-time voicemail transcription and affordable international calls.
But rapidly changing norms can lead to misunderstandings between generations.
Here’s some phone call etiquette for 2023.
Don’t leave a voice mail
Voice mails are old-school; send a text or email for important stuff. People don’t even listen; they read weird transcriptions.
Text before calling
text first to see if it’s a good time to chat, and if it’s urgent or just a casual catch-up, or even specify the topic. This rule’s a must for video calls, too; never pop up on video unannounced
You don’t need to answer the phone
You don’t have to pick up when someone calls out of the blue; mute it if you’re busy, and remember, it’s your choice to answer, so don’t get annoyed if you do. For extra politeness, shoot them a text explaining you can’t talk right now.
Emotions are for voice, facts are for text
Phone calls are for nuanced stuff like emotions and opinions, while facts and plans are better in writing. Complicated discussions? Pick up the phone, because, “Nobody has a good fight via text message.”
Unless it’s an emergency, please hold
If someone doesn’t answer your call, do not hang up and immediately call them again. If they have not responded to your text about the call they missed. If it is an emergency, clearly state that right away in a text message.
Use video voice mails judiciously
Apple recently introduced a new feature in its iOS 17 update that lets you leave a video message when someone doesn’t answer your FaceTime call. It’s silly and fun and should be used that way, but keep in mind not everyone will find them delightful.
Stay still for video calls
For video calls, focus and stay still with your face properly framed, as moving around can be distracting; save chores for voice calls.
Don’t use speakerphone in public
Using speakerphone in public, whether for calls or video, is generally impolite; use headphones to respect others’ privacy and be mindful of your surroundings.
Start screening calls again
In iOS 17, Apple introduced real-time voicemail transcription for call screening; use it to avoid scam calls from unknown numbers instead of answering them all.
Don’t stop talking on the phone
Hopping on the phone may be less common or involve more planning than it used to, however it’s still a wonderful way to communicate. Talking to a person in real time can strengthen relationships, improve mental health and lessen loneliness.
BTW: it’s still okay to FaceTime mom without warning.