Don't Call on the Hour

When you pick up the phone to call sonmeone out of the blue, do it smartly so you don't wind up on someone's blacklist. Here's how.

Stever Robbins
2-minute read

If you're going to call someone, make sure to do it in a way that is most likely to get the best response. Once upon a time, the phone was how we stayed connected to friends, families, and colleagues. But nowadays the phone has become a communication medium of last resort. We don't like making calls, and we don't like taking calls. Life is so much easier if we just type, even though typing is far slower than talking.

And yet, sometimes we must call people. Even worse, we must call them without agreeing upon a specific time beforehand. We might even have to call them without texting them first. Gasp!

If you're going to call someone out of the blue, don't do it right by the hour or the half hour. Do it at :15 or :45 past the hour. Most people schedule meetings to start at the top of the hour or on the half hour. If you call at 2:55pm and someone has a 3pm appointment, you're putting them in the position of not having enough time to address your topic (they need to be thinking about their appointment), yet they aren't actually in the next meeting yet. By the time they hang up, they've attached emotions of embarrassment, hesitation, and awkwardness to you.

Effective phone callsIf you call at quarter-past or quarter-to the hour, you'll either reach them with enough free time to finish your conversation, or they'll be completely occupied in a meeting and (hopefully) have their phone off. So you'll leave a voicemail and they'll call back.

Time it right, and your phone call will fit smoothly into someone's day. You want to be the person everyone remembers as someone with whom they want a connection.

For more tips on effective phone calls, check out How to Use the Phone BetterCell Phone EtiquetteAre You on the Phone?, and Telephone Interview Killer: Appearing Distracted.

About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.