By Ernest Williamson The Bulletin
My daughter recently told me that I was one of the few people she knew who still made phone calls.
I wondered what she was talking about. That could not be right, I thought.
Phones have been around for 147 years, and I started using a phone on the wall in my parents’ home when phone numbers were only 7 digits.
But today, we have iPhones and, in their 16 years of existence, the technology has drastically changed how we use the phone.
Now, as the Washington Post points out, people can have conversations in public on their smartwatches, see voice mails transcribed in real time and dial internationally midday without worrying about the cost.
Along with technology changes, proper phone etiquette has also changed, causing some people to be left behind. According to my daughter, I am one of those.
To help people like me navigate the new phone call norms, the Washington Post talked to etiquette experts and people of all ages about their own phone pet peeves.
The Post points out that the rules vary depending on your relationship, your age and the content of the call. The closer you are to someone, the less the rules apply.
So, as Heather Kelly wrote in the Post article: “Go ahead, FaceTime your mom with no warning while brushing your teeth.”
Here are some of the Post’s new rules for using your phone.
DON’T LEAVE A VOICE MAIL
Voice mails are an artifact of the days before text messages. With few exceptions, if you have information that needs to be communicated in an accurate, timely manner, you are far better off putting it into writing as a text or email.
I get an oops for this one.
TEXT BEFORE CALLING
Calling someone without warning can feel stressful to the recipient. Instead, text them ahead of time to ask if they are free to talk.
A big oops.
WORDING IS IMPORTANT IN PRE-CALL TEXTS
A simple “call me” text can feel urgent and make someone think there is an emergency.
Clarify if it is urgent or just a catch-up.
YOU DON’T NEED TO ANSWER
Just because someone is calling you does not mean you have to answer. If you are in a restaurant or in a meeting, mute the call and get back to them at a convenient time. If you are upset that someone interrupted you with a phone call, whose fault, is it? You are the one who answered it.
A rule I have not violated.
NO SPEAKER IN PUBLIC
It is generally considered bad form to use speakerphones in public. Use headphones or save it for later.
No problem for me here.
DON’T STOP TALKING ON THE PHONE
Phone calls aren’t dead. Reporter Kelly writes that talking on the phone is still a wonderful way to communicate.
Indeed, scientific studies have determined that phone calls are much better than text messages if you want to strengthen friendships, improve mental health or lessen loneliness.
I am going to call my daughter and tell her it is still acceptable for me to call. Or maybe I will text her.
(Contact Ernie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, send letters in care of The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516).