How Early Is Too Early To Call Someone? A Southern Etiquette Debate

You can still mind your manners, even over the phone.

Vintage Woman On Phone

Getty Images/Underwood Archives/Contributor

In a world that’s been made incredibly accessible thanks to technological advances such as texting and emailing, we’ll never stop appreciating a good old-fashioned phone call. No laptop or smartphone can quite express the same intricacies of an excited phone conversation with a family member or friend. However, even a seemingly limitless communication avenue needs its boundaries, and that’s where phone etiquette comes in. We’ve already debated and opined on how late is too late to call someone, but on the other side of the spectrum: How early is too early to call someone? 

With busy schedules, packed weekdays, and quickly passing weekends, it can feel as though time is of the essence. It can be tempting to pick up the phone and make a call as soon as possible, but etiquette might dictate a little more restraint. Here’s our Southerner-friendly breakdown on how early is too early to call someone. 

Like with all manners-minded questions, these social rules aren’t necessarily rigid or resolute. It depends on the situation, people, culture, and expectations, which can all ebb and flow depending on context. However, as a good rule of thumb, it’s important to heed the time of day when reaching out with a non-emergency phone call, particularly if it’s someone you are not extremely close with. That goes for loose acquaintances, coworkers, extended family, neighbors, and anyone else in your rolodex. For early calls, keep in mind it’s best to keep things short, as it’s hard to know what else the person might need to be doing to kickstart the day or stay on schedule. 

Stay in the Safe Zone

As an easy boundary, it’s always considerate to wait until at least 9 a.m. to start dialing up. That gives plenty of time for people to wake up, complete a morning routine, and be ready for discourse. For those in your personal life who you are aware have typical work hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the hour between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. can also be preferable before the day gets busy, however don’t be offended if the call goes to voicemail. Just expect a call back or text later in the day.

Consider the Day of the Week

On weekdays, it’s safe to assume that you can call in the earlier morning hours, around 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. However, on weekends, wait until at least 10 a.m. to allow much-needed rest and relaxation, as well as a leisurely morning routine. The most staunch Southern etiquette enthusiasts will assert that Sundays are not for morning calls whatsoever, but that’s dependent on the person. 

Think of Who You're Calling

If you know that your particular family member is an early riser, or your close friend can only chat before heading to work, odds are you can at least attempt an early call without fear of being intrusive. As a rule, refrain from calling coworkers or neighbors before 9 a.m. As far as calling local businesses, doctors’ offices, or other establishments, heed the business hours stated online.

In short, don’t be the person who catches someone before their morning coffee—or worse, before they’re even awake!—lest you risk causing alarm or stress. Even the most polite or talkative people might need time to get going. And if the sun’s not up, don’t go dialing. 

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