But chances are that nowadays, with most of our chats taking place on social media, receiving a call can only mean one thing: somebody trying to sell you anything from insurance and electricity to a holiday or a new phone contract.
Those calls always seem to come at the most inopportune times too - when you've just sat down to dinner or are trying to get some rest on a Sunday.
Even more of a nuisance are the automated voice calls.
But an Italian association for contact centres, Asso Contact, has moved to lessen the intrusion by banning cold calls being made on Sundays and national holidays.
“We don't want to disturb people at strange times,” Roberto Boggio, the president of Asso Contact and general manager for Transcom Europe, which operates a network of call centres, told Corriere.
“We want to give some quality to a sector that deserves to be recognized as an industry - and that quality must also come from our members, who should respect etiquette, and comply with a code of conduct and good manners.”
But call centre staff will still be able to make calls between 9am and 9pm Monday to Friday and from 10am to 7pm on a Saturday.
In response to a deluge of complaints from Italians, Asso has also told its members to encourage staff to “adopt kindness and courtesy” during a call and stop harassing people if they do not want to speak or buy.