Caller I.D. Etiquette, Should You Call Back Missed Calls?

Caller I.D. Etiquette, Should You Call Back Missed Calls

By: Maralee McKee, Manners Mentor

Hello, my friend, and welcome to Q & A Day!

Today’s question is about caller I.D. etiquette and involves something that’s happened to all of us more than once.

I especially like this question because the person who wrote it was kind enough not only to email me her thanks for answering, but also to share the follow-up of what happened next.

It’s interesting: I’ve answered over 1,500 manners questions via email; what would you guess is the percentage of people who write me back to say thank you?

If you guessed one percent, you’d be right. Yep, just one percent.

I’m not looking for a thank-you. I enjoy answering the questions. I appreciate learning from any that I need to research. And I’m honored that people think highly enough of me to mentor them in the situation.

The thing is, if someone isn’t thanking the manners lady, who are they thanking? (Probably not enough people.)

And that makes me sad, because thank-yous are a win-win of goodwill and good feelings.

You see, “thank you” is more than a societal pleasantry. There’s a deeper and more important significance for both the giver and receiver.

When we’re actively engaged in expressing gratitude, we aren’t reaching out for more. In those minutes, we’re immersed in contentment. And contentment is a cornerstone of our happiness.

Meanwhile, the person on the receiving end of the “thank you” is actively being noticed and appreciated. Both of these feelings, psychologists tell us, are the yardsticks by which we measure our self-worth. And without self-worth, we believe the lie that we’re worthless.

Contentment. Happiness. Being noticed. Being appreciated. Self-worth.

They’re all vital parts of a well-lived life. And all of them are birthed in part by thank-yous.

As you go about your day, look for opportunities to say thanks. They really are everywhere. “Thank you for holding the door.” “Thank you for sharing your thoughts in today’s meeting.” “Thank you for cooking dinner tonight.” “Thank you for loving me!” “Thank you for the smiley face you drew next to my name on my Vanilla Macchiato.” “Thank you for bagging my groceries.” There are enough thank-yous that we can give them to just about everyone we talk to.

We can aim higher than one percent. Whether in person, on a sticky note, by phone, text, pen and notecard, or smoke signal, expressing gratitude blesses the giver and the receiver. Who knows, those whom you thank might just like the feeling so much that they make it a habit of their own.

Thank you for reading that! Now, on to the question about caller I.D. etiquette from the gracious lady who took time to say thank you.

Caller I.D. Etiquette: Should You Call Back Missed Calls?

Question and Answer!

Q: Dear Maralee,

The other day a friend of mine called. I missed her call, but I knew who it was because she showed up on caller I.D. when I looked at my phone later. She didn’t leave a message. I wasn’t sure whether I should call her back. She called me, so she must have wanted something, but I didn’t want her to think I was demanding to know what she wanted. I didn’t call her back. What would you suggest I do if this happens again?


Suzanne  Burton


You did great, Suzanne! If your friend had felt comfortable leaving you a message, she would have left one. Whatever it is that she was going to say, maybe she changed her mind, maybe she’s hoping to catch you when you pick up so she can speak directly to you, maybe she dialed your number by accident, maybe something urgent came up at the moment and she didn’t have time to leave the message. Whatever it was, if people want to leave a message, they will. It’s better to let them call you back. The original caller is the lead person when it comes to this call.

The exception to this would be if there were any reason that you were to think the person might be injured, or the call came from a child, someone who is ill, or an elderly person. Then you would want to call back. If you don’t receive an answer, get a hold of someone who can personally check on the person.

Putting aside the possibility that the person is in physical need, what you can do is wait a day or two and then call back. There’s no need to mention the call she made to you. Let her know you’re thinking of her and realized it’s been a while since the two of you talked. If you’re leaving a message, say that it’s a friendship call, nothing urgent, and that she can call you back at her convenience.

Thank you for thinking of me with your question, and have a great chat with your friend!

The Follow-up!

The next day I received a thank you email from Suzanne. Here’s part of her reply that came after her thanks:

…Just now as I was writing this to you, the phone rang. It was the friend who called me earlier who did not leave a message. I had not talked to her in a long time, and I was very curious to know what she was calling about. God’s timing is perfect! I had a lot more time to talk when she called me just now. He cares about every detail.

By the way, I find the subject of etiquette fascinating. In my opinion, many of us are really missing opportunities to bless others because we just don’t know any better. Thank you for doing what you do!

Whom could you call today and thank for something, whether you get voice mail or an actual answer? Share with me in the comments: a parent, an old friend, a former co-worker, one of your child’s teachers, a kind and helpful nurse at your doctor’s office? There are those whom your call could impact deeply. Go ahead, make their day — and yours!

If you liked this post, you’ll enjoy this one, too. It’s about How to Leave a Voice Mail Message Everyone Enjoys Hearing. 

What’s Next?

Thank you for being here today! I appreciate you so much for being part of the family. Please invite others by Sharing, Liking, Tweeting, Pinning, Emailing and passing this post on to your friends, family and people in your social media circles. Your sharing is the reason this blog has taken off like it has. Your kindness is a precious gift!

Hugs and Blessings,

Maralee's Signature

Caller I.D. Etiquette, Should You Call Back Missed Calls

Maralee McKee

About Maralee McKee

Maralee McKee is the founder of Manners Mentor. With her best-friend style, sense of humor, and knack for updating etiquette to meet our modern sensibilities, she has been referred to as "Sandra Bullock meets Emily Post!" Maralee shows you how to become the best version of yourself. No fluff. No pretense. Just you at your authentic best! The person you were always meant to be! To learn more about Maralee click on the "Meet Maralee" or "New? Start Here" links at the top of this page.

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