|When this 1909 etiquette advice was given, no one had dreamt of the telephone evolving eventually into something like the iPhone.|
Social Amenities for the School Girl
TELEPHONES have so important a place in the social life of to-day, that there is quite as much etiquette in regard to them as there is to other matters. Take the word itself, for instance. We began by calling it "telephone" as a matter of course, and always in speaking of using it referred to it as "telephoning." But this soon became corrupted by the lazy and slipshod into "phone" and "phoning," which pleased the ears of many and were widely adopted, until among certain classes, they are firmly established as the accepted parlance when referring to, or to the use of, the most indispensable invention of the age.
But the language of the polite world does not admit of abbreviations of any sort. In good society, any form of slovenliness is abhorrent, and to speak in a slipshod way indicates an untidyness of speech, as distasteful and as little to be tolerated as untidyness of person or of dress. And, consequently, well bred people from one end of the country to the other say "telephone" and look askance at the persons who shorten it.
When you are calling up your friends, to greet them with "Hello!" is as bad form as it is to say "phone" or "phoning." "Hello" belongs strictly to the business world and has no place in the social, either at the telephone or at any other place. You should say "Good morning" by way of greeting at the telephone, just as you would at home or in your friend's home, or the street, or wherever you encounter one another.
If another member of the family than the one to whom you especially wish to talk answers the telephone, do not be so discourteous as to ignore her by asking at once for the other, but exchange a few remarks with her first and then let her know that you wish to talk with another.
It is not etiquette for girls to telephone to men at their places of business or at their clubs, nor should they call them up at their homes unless for a particular reason, as giving them an informal invitation. So much inviting of an unceremonious character is done by means of the telephone nowadays, that it is quite proper for girls to take this method of reaching young men, always provided they do not try to get them at their places of business.
There is a great convenience in giving invitations over the telephone, for it means that they are accepted or declined at the moment and one can plan accordingly. But the verbal invitations extended must be followed by a note —that is, when the invitation is accepted. Of course, if it is declined the matter is ended. But when you ask your friend to anything over the telephone and he or she acccpts, the correct thing is to write a note at once corroborating.
If your mother has allowed you to ask a young man to dinner, for instance, you write that your mother and you are so glad to know that he can dine with you on such a night and at such a time, mentioning the date and hour. The note should be brief, to the point, of one sentence covering the matter, and what the object is, as no doubt you see to fix beyond any possibility of mistake, the day and time in the other's mind.
So many errors of time and place have occurred through the giving and taking of telephone invitations, to the utter confusion of hostess and guest, that fertile Madame Grundy, ever alert to keep well oiled the wheels of social life, has invented this manner of meeting the situation, so now it is obligatory that you follow your telephone invitation by a note.
Many women have stated hours for being "get-at-able" at the telephone and give the time out to all their friends, the popular hours being between nine and ten, or ten and eleven, in the morning. If you know that such a person has such an hour, you must never, except in dire necessity, call her at any other time.
Women usually have their maids answer | their telephones and bring them the name of the person calling before they personally respond. Girls who have their own maids do this also and, indeed, in the homes of all fashionable persons, a servant is delegated for the purpose of taking the responsibility of the telephone quite as much as another has the care of the front door.
It is not etiquette for the person called to the telephone to end the conversation. If a friend calls you, you must remain until she says good-bye. It is not proper for you to say it any more than you would if she were making a call in your house.
Some people never seem to know how to break off a telephone conversation, and they are just the same people who never seem to know how to go, even after they get started, from a room. But, being well-mannered, you would never think of pushing them out, and neither can you push them off the telephone, which is precisely what you would do if you said good-bye first.
When you call them up, that is another matter. The tables are turned. The initiative lies with you, and you end the conversation as it pleases you. — Los Angeles Herald, 1909
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia