Why I rarely answer unscheduled phone calls — and what I do instead of talking on the phone. This is my phone policy.

by JERRY SILFWER aka Doctor Spin
Expert in corporate communications and online persuasion

Who you gonna call?

This tweet has been doing the rounds on social media lately, and quite a few dear friends have been kind enough to name me publicly:

my phone policy

That would be me, probably.

And yes, tagging me is totally fair. Ever since getting my first mobile phone, I’ve almost never answered unscheduled phone calls.

Here’s why:

My Personal Phone Policy

Situations when I’m not going to pick up the phone:

While hanging out with my son.

While spending time with my wife.

While with friends and family.

While in traffic.

While thinking about solutions for my clients’ problems.

While in a business meeting.

While writing or creating.

While sleeping (or having sex).

While at the gym or out running.

While in the bathroom. 

While doing housework (laundry, cooking, cleaning etc.)

While meditating.

While eating (or drinking).

While watching Game of Thrones.

While grocery shopping, picking up my son at kindergarten, or any other type of public activity. 

Situations when I’m going to pick up the phone:

When I’m close to my phone when it rings, and none of the above scenarios apply, and the phone number is already in my contact list belonging to someone, who for some reason, should be unable to send a text message or an email.

When kindergarten staff calls.

When my mother calls.

The Answer: Send a Text Message

Is there a potential crisis? Why not send a text message along these lines:

“Jerry. Code red. Can you make yourself available for a quick call?”

If you’re my client and you send me a text like that, I would walk out from my own wedding to take the call. (I actually did just that.)

Want to just have a casual conversation between friends? Sure, here’s a template for such occasions:

“Jerry, I’m bored. In the mood for some random talk?”

And yes, I’ve gotten loads of snarky remarks like:

“I called you first, but you didn’t answer, so I took my business elsewhere.”

Well, you don’t see me crying myself to sleep, do you? If someone thinks that my expertise is so easily replaced, we shouldn’t be working together anyway.

And, according to my boss1, being available for random phone calls is not actually in my job description.

phone policy

Hello. Is it me you’re looking for?


  1. That’s me.


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Jerry Silfwer is the author of Doctor Spin, a PR blog that's been around for 15+ years. Via his agency Spin Factory, Jerry is advising brands on how to adapt to a 'digital first' world. In 2016, Cision Scandinavia named him "PR Influencer of the Year". Jerry lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife Lisah, news anchor and television host, and their three-year-old son, Jack.


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