Do You Answer the Phone at Someone Else's Home?

Picture this: You're sitting down for a quick drink at a friend's house one weekend afternoon. The two of you are getting ready to meet friends at a restaurant down the street, and your friend just stepped downstairs for a smoke break. Her phone, rested gently on the kitchen counter, starts to ring. Do you pick it up?

It's a tricky situation where etiquette is concerned.

People of earlier generations found it commonplace to answer the kitchen landline for a friend or family member if they stepped out. Before there were cell phones or an answering machine in every home, missing a call wasn't quickly remedied.

But now, with cell phones and voicemail and caller ID, polite tech etiquette gets a little complicated. Your friend might initially miss a call, but they'll probably see who called them and might even get a voicemail or text message to relay the message soon after.

And yet there are some situations where it seems perfectly alright to answer a friend's phone. Here are my own personal rules about answering the phone at a friend's house:

• If I can see a mutual friend is calling and we're expecting them to join us, I'll answer the phone. They might need directions or a gate code.

• If we're expecting someone and I can't see who's calling (like a landline without caller ID), I'll answer the phone with "[Friend's name]'s residence." If it's not our anticipated friend, I offer to take a message.

• In any other situation, I'd probably let the phone ring and just let my friend know she got a call while she was busy.

Of course, in line with "different strokes for different folks," many of you reading this probably think my rules are way off-base. So tell us: Do you answer the phone at a friend's house? When, if ever, is it OK to politely pick up a friend's phone? Does it matter if it's a cell phone or a landline? Tell us in the comments!

MORE ON HOME TECH ETIQUETTE FROM APARTMENT THERAPY:
Housesitting Tech Etiquette
Are Dinner Time Phone Breaks Good Tech Etiquette?
Do you Follow the Tec Etiquette "Crossword" Rule?

(Image: Shutterstock)

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Taryn is a writer, maker, designer, and editor of lifestyle blog Formal Fringe. She lives in an apartment in Atlanta with her fiancé, their Boston Terrier and lots of serving dishes.