It’s hard to answer every phone call we receive, even with cell phones. It’s not acceptable to answer a phone call in a meeting, during a meal, on a date or in a quiet location. While you are dealing with these situations in the proper way, you then have to figure out the etiquette of dealing with the missed calls. How you handle the situation depends on who it is that you’re calling back.

Time

If you miss a call that you legitimately wanted to answer, it’s OK to call back within the first 30 seconds of missing it. If the call is not formal, a quick explanation as to how you missed it is OK, but not necessary. The more time that passes between the missed call and your return call, the better chance that the other person will miss your return call.

If you are the caller, and the person you called calls you back within 30 seconds, you must answer it. You shouldn’t need to screen the number you just called, and it’s nearly impossible to create an excuse for missing a call is such a short time after you made a call. If five minutes or more passes before the person calls you back, it’s understandable if you miss their return call.

Screening

Many people screen their phone numbers before answering. If it’s a number that they don’t recognize, it’s acceptable for them to wait and see whether the person leaves a voice mail. If they do, they find out who it was and can call them back. If they don’t, it is acceptable not to call the number back. If you are the caller and you think the person you’re calling doesn’t know your number, leave a voice mail. If you do think the person knows your number, you don’t have to leave a message. If you receive no response, try calling back a second time and leave a voice mail.

Voice Mails

To deal with missed calls in a tactful manner, do not create a long personal greeting. The caller has already waited through numerous rings. Now they have reached the voice mail, and they already know what to do. By keeping the greeting short, the caller is more likely to leave a message for you. If you are the caller, realize that you do not need to explain everything that you wanted to tell the person, in detail, in a voice mail. Chances are they’ll call you back even if don’t leave a voice mail. If it’s vital information, keep it brief. Never just leave a message asking the person to call you back. Your missed call already affirms that.

Text Response

According to Digital Media Wire, it is acceptable to respond to a missed call with a text. According to Realtor Interactive magazine, it’s only acceptable in certain circumstances. If you cannot answer a phone, such as in a movie theater, at a concert or nightclub, in a meeting, or somewhere with bad service, responding to the call with a text shows that you did see the missed call, you do want to talk, but you just couldn’t answer the phone at that particular moment. If you are the caller, respect that the person could not answer your call at that time. Set up a time to talk, say what you needed to say via text message, or calmly wait for the person to call you back at his convenience.