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Cell Phone Etiquette

By Staff | Aug 23, 2012

I came across this piece back in July, and quite honestly, I set it aside and forgot about it until I found it (yes, I uncovered the stack it was in on the desk) and it still is most appropriate. And yes, I will admit to violating a couple of these commandments over the years, as I’m sure many people have. Perhaps we can all take these to heart.

The following are the “10 Commandments of Cell Phone Use.”

1. Respect those you’re with. We’ve all been out with someone who has checked out of the one-on-one live conversation for a number of minutes to casually shoot the breeze with someone else via cell phone. If you make social plans with someone, they are the first priority and deserve your undivided time and attention.

2. Let voicemail handle non-urgent calls when appropriate. Voicemail exists for a reasonit allows you to take note of non-emergency incoming calls without disrupting the environment you are currently in. If you’re at a teacher/parent conference, a meal with your family, a social function immersed in conversations, and other such situations, rest assured your voicemail will be there.

3. Set a good example to the younger generation. Kids learn by example, so keep that in mind when you’re modeling cell phone behavior in front of the younger set-whether your kids or others. You teach them to say “please” and “thank you,” among other social graces, so why stop there? Mind your cell phone Ps and Qs in front of children and teens alike.

4. Wait to text, and save a life (yours). When you drive and text at the same time, whether reading or composing, you’re not only taking your hands off the wheel, but your eyes off the road as well. No text message is worth the risk of injuring, or killing, yourself or others. Wait until you are safely parked to send and return text messages.

5. Stash your cell when dining out. When people spend money on a dinner out, the last thing they want is to become a captive audience to a third party cell phone conversation. If you’re eating in public, especially in the company of others, stash the cell phone (and turn off the ringer) until the meal is over.

6. Remember when ‘private time’ is in order. It’s easy to identify telltale restroom sounds like echoes, running water and flushing in the background, so if you’re taking a time out to answer nature’s call, don’t try to fool anyone end calls before you walk into the restroom, and don’t answer or dial again until you’ve washed and exited.

7. Keep arguments under wraps. Not every cell phone conversation may be a happy one, but that doesn’t mean you have license to a public meltdown. Remember that others can’t see or hear the hothead on the other end of the line all they are aware of is a one-sided screaming match a few feet away. Don’t let it be you.

8. Mind your manners. Stories and language that might be entertaining to your closest associates may very well come off as inappropriate or just plain TMI to innocent bystanders.

9. Don’t ignore universal quiet zones. Whether you’re in a theater, house of worship, conference room or other place requiring cell phone silence, heed the mandate to shut off cell phones completely. Not only so they don’t make a notable sound, but also so that screen light doesn’t distract, both of which are highly disrespectful to those around you.

10. Don’t make service personnel wait on you. Cashiers, restaurant waitstaff, counter workers and others in the service trade resent customers who expect to be served immediately, yet can’t be bothered to interrupt their cell phone conversations or texting marathons to coherently place an order or pay for a purchase. Many service personnel strive to do their job well, and customers distracted by cell phones can undermine their own experience and create a bottleneck with others. Please-help them help you.

If you see yourself as a violator of one of these commandments, take note, whip yourself with wet noodles, and try to remember the right thing to do the next time.