Could these new phone etiquette rules change the way you keep in touch with the people in your life?

By HarperLees

The smartphone has come a long way over the past few decades. What was once a static device taking pride of place in the hallway is now a multi-functional device that is rarely out of arm’s reach.

It is fitting, then, that the way you use your phone has changed greatly, and continues to evolve year by year.

In fact, accepted phone behaviours are changing so quickly that etiquette specialists Debrett’s has issued new guidelines on the matter. In its report, Debrett’s shares new unwritten phone etiquette rules for communicating with friends and acquaintances, and some of them might surprise you.

Read on to learn seven commandments of mobile etiquette and how they could affect the way you use your own phone to keep in touch with people.

1. Text before calling to make sure it’s a convenient time

Even though most of us have our phones in our pockets 24/7, the thought of taking a spontaneous phone call can feel overwhelming and intrusive. Debrett’s points out that a quick text, or even pre-arranging a time to call, can help your friend to organise their day and answer your call in the right frame of mind.

2. Keep your phone conversations to yourself

With access to Wi-Fi almost anywhere, many people enjoy taking phone calls or even video calls while they’re out and about. Sometimes, they’ll take a video call during their commute to make the most of the time they have.

If you decide to take a call in a public place, it’s important to avoid disturbing those around you by using headphones. This is also more respectful to the person you’re speaking to, who may not feel comfortable knowing that strangers can hear what you’re talking about.

3. Repeated redials can be stressful for the recipient

If you’re keen to get hold of someone who isn’t answering their phone, it can be tempting to try again a few times in a row. According to Debrett’s, this is a sure-fire way to raise the recipient’s heart rate and convince them that something is amiss.

You can avoid alienating your friend entirely by sending a quick explanatory text after the missed call. This is especially important if it really is an emergency, so that they will be able to quickly see why they need to call you back sooner rather than later.

4. Voice notes or voicemails are onerous for the listener – opt for a text instead where possible

In the past, you might have ordinarily left a voicemail if your phone call went unanswered, patiently listening to the pre-recorded message until you heard the beep.

Nowadays, with the invention of voice notes on apps like WhatsApp, it’s possible to leave an audio message without waiting for the beep. It’s become a popular way to convey longer messages that are cumbersome to text, but for the recipient, it’s less convenient. Debrett’s points out that voice notes can become excessively long and difficult to hear, especially if the speaker is multi-tasking.

So, before you hit the record button, consider whether your recipient might prefer a more succinct text than a voice note.

5. Start your phone conversation by summarising the reason for the call

Since the invention of texts or similar messaging apps, phone calls have become less common occurrences for many of us. As such, Debrett’s notes that a spontaneous phone call can sometimes be alarming for the recipient.

It suggests diffusing any possible tension by starting your conversation with a quick sentence to let them know why you’ve called. This is particularly important for calls to parents from a school, for example, when they might assume that their child is ill or there has been an accident.

6. Not everyone enjoys a phone call and might make their excuses

While some people might simply ignore their ringtone if they don’t want to take a call, others might answer even though they don’t feel comfortable speaking on the phone. This might be to check that it isn’t an emergency or simply because they feel it’s rude not to answer.

Remember that not everyone enjoys a phone call. So, even if they have answered, they may make their excuses and end the call quickly. Don’t take this personally.

7. While texts are often preferred, sometimes a human voice is more appropriate

You’ll have noticed that much of the advice that Debrett’s has shared suggests that texting is preferable to a phone call in most cases. While this may be true, there are still certain circumstances when a phone call is more appropriate.

For messages of condolence or sympathy, for example, it can be difficult to convey the nuance of your message in a short text. For conversations like this, it’s usually much better to pick up the phone and speak to the person instead.

Get in touch

If you’d like to learn how we can help you to manage your finances and achieve your long-term goals, please get in touch. We’ll be happy to hear from you whether you enjoy a phone call or you’re more comfortable catching up by email.

You can reach us at or 01277 350560. We’ll be very happy to help.

Please note

This article is for information only. Please do not act based on anything you might read in this article. All contents are based on our understanding of HMRC legislation, which is subject to change.