The Right Way to Cell Phone Etiquette

By: Tanisa Brown

I frequently use my cell phone just as much as the next person, but one has to demonstrate more courtesy when taking a call. Cell phone users today tend to chat too loudly in public, reveal inappropriate information around strangers and quite frankly, are just down right rude when in the presence of company, on a date, at a function or in the middle of a business meeting.

I'm sure you are guilty of one of these situations because I know I am. While I was in church once, my cell phone started to blare off right in the middle of Sunday service. You can imagine how LOUD my cell phone must have sounded as it echoed throughout the church with churchgoers angrily gawking at me. I was terribly embarrassed, but since then learned how to use my cell phone more politely and professionally. It's easy and everyone can do it. All it takes is a moment to consciously think where you are, whom you are with and what you are doing when taking a call.

Family and Friends

It's easy to be comfortable around your family and friends because you know them and you can be yourself. However, that doesn't mean to treat them as if they are not important when your cell phone rings. Your family doesn't get to see you much and I'm sure they love spending time with you. Therefore, when a call comes in politely excuse yourself out of the room or even better, let the call go to voicemail. If you must take the call, which by the way should only be for emergencies, be sure to keep it short. Your family will appreciate it and it will show them they are important to you.

The same goes for when you are with friends. Politely step out of the room when your cell phone rings and let the caller know you are with company and will call them back. Keep the conversation brief and return to your guests as quickly as possible. Calls from parents, children or an emergency should be the only exceptions. Otherwise, don't blatantly alienate your friends. It's rude and I'm sure you hate it just as much when they yak away on their cell phone in front of you.

Business Meetings

Whether you are at an internship, on a job interview or in a business meeting, you should be smart enough to know to put your cell phone on mute or on vibrate. If it does ring, quickly turn your cell phone off and apologize for the interruption. Yes I am fully aware that there are times when you do need to have your cell phone on for calls, but this should NEVER be during a job interview. At an internship it's simple to let your supervisor know you are expecting an important phone call, but as always keep conversations short. It's just the same during business meetings. Let your colleagues know you have to take an important call and again, politely excuse yourself and keep your calls short.

On a Date

First of all if your phone goes off on a date and you sit there chatting away like the other person doesn't exist, don't be surprised if your date doesn't ever want to see you again. A solution around this: send text messages. Yes texting is your friend when on a date, but please, please, please be discreet about it. I often send text messages when I'm in the restroom or when my date is in the restroom. Yeah sure I text my friends to give them the low down on my date, but most importantly to let them know I'm ok and my whereabouts. You can never be too safe these days and communicating on your cell phone during circumstances like this is more than acceptable. But again, be discreet.

At Functions (i.e. movies, plays, funerals, weddings)

Don't make the mistake like I did with the church situation. Please mute your phone or put it on vibrate. Better yet, turn it off. Of course you may need to keep your phone on for the babysitter or to give directions to relatives, but being polite and respectful to those around you is the name of the game here.

In Restaurants

I remember once I was at P. Diddy's restaurant in Manhattan and could not believe how the five acquaintances I was with all placed their cell phones on the dinner table. Hello!! We are about to have dinner and drinks!! Instead, these people were too busy trying to look cute and more interested in trying to impress someone. It was a turn off and to say the least I was not impressed. Rather, I found it immature and very tacky. Keep you cell phone on your hip or in your purse; not on the table.

In Public

This is the number one complaint when it comes to cell phone users. Talking too darn loud in public and/or revealing too much private information. The people around you have no interest in hearing your conversation and besides, why would you want people to know your business? Whenever I notice I'm talking too loudly on my cell phone, I simply catch myself and lower my voice to a normal tone. Believe me, if the person on the other line can't hear you, they'll let you know.

Ringtones

Yes we all want to show off our own personal style and ringtones certainly do just that. I like to give certain friends and family specific ringtones so I know exactly who is calling me. But lets face it, other people around you don't want to hear it. If you are a business professional, your boss, co-workers or clients won't appreciate your rap, teeny bopper or heavy metal ringtones either. I'm all for personalizing callers with ringtones, but try to be more mature when at the workplace if at all possible.

In conclusion, it's true we can't escape the mass of cell phone users wherever we go, but if everyone took the time to be more considerate around others, it can be more tolerable. Trust me, when you start behaving and handling your cell phone calls more courteously and professionally, you'll be amazed how your family and friends will pick up on your good habits. Cell phone etiquette is not hard. All it takes is a simple conscious effort!

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