Ancient Etiquette: Must a phone call be ended by the caller only?

by epi on December 31, 2013

Q: My mother has always insisted upon a particular point of telephone etiquette – she insists that a telephone call should always be terminated by the person who placed the call. Occasionally, we endure a short, awkward silence on the phone when I call her and forget that I was the person that actually placed the call.

I understand that this rule is a good one for business, but individuals? Is this an actual rule of etiquette when using the telephone?

A: This is entirely impractical in today’s day and age where the use of the telephone has virtually exploded beyond where it was when it was a new invention. This rule doesn’t even work for business all the time – the person being called may have to dash to a meeting and can certainly say, “Joan, I’m late for the meeting – I’ve made note of the need for the Rialdo budget figures – was there anything else before I have to go?” Because the phone is more a communications device than a social one today, that rule needs to be put away and simple, common courtesy practiced on the parts of both the caller and the person being called.

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