This ’50s Guide To Proper Telephone Etiquette, A Funny Reminder Of A Simpler Time

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There were days before texting and the Internet when phone calls were the best way to reach your friends and family. Of course, with any type of communication comes proper etiquette. Most people still know the basics like answering “hello” and saying “goodbye” before you hang up.

If you grew up in the ’50s, do you remember receiving a book or learning about proper phone etiquette? Phone companies actually made guides to phone etiquette and some of it sounds pretty funny these days! See if you remember any of this advice:

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1. Always apologize for mistakes

apologize
Apologize for mistakes / Bell Systems/Hagley Library

If you accidentally dial a wrong number, a problem that was more common years ago, you should always apologize to the other person before hanging up.

2. Picture the other person

picture
Picture the other person / Bell Systems/Hagley Library

In the days long before video chats, this guide suggested that you picture the person you’re talking to in order to make the call more personal. I wonder how this worked if you never met the person you were talking to.

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3. Hang up the phone gently

gentle
Be gentle / Bell Systems/Hagley Library

Most people have smartphones these days, so you hang up by pressing a button. In the ’50s and beyond, you would have to physically hang up the telephone. However, nothing was more satisfying than ending a horrible call with a slam. Oops.

Read on to the NEXT page for even more phone etiquette from the 1950s!

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