Cell phones are a way of life now, as they enable us to be more efficient and effective by simplifying our lives. Since the cell phone operates like a camera, television, and computer there are endless ways a person can utilize their time. Most people carry a cell phone for quick communication, as well as for safety. What is not clearly defined is when a person should use their cell phone and in what situations it is considered rude to be on the phone. There are ways to stay “plugged in” and not offend others. We will address the etiquette of cell phone usage.
1. Wear a headset when on a cell phone to minimize exposure to unnecessary radiation and avoid any health risks. Self-care is essential.
2. When in a public space where the audience is expected to be silent, such as a theater, a concert or any other public arena, turn off your cell phone or at the very least put your phone on vibrate. It is very rude to think that you are above this common courtesy. Most people can come up with multiple examples of when they have been disturbed by a ring tone when trying to listen and focus on someone or something.
3. When in a restaurant, turn off your cell phone. If you are expecting a call, inform the company that you are with that you are expecting a call and excuse yourself from the table. It is ok to stay at the table when you are with a close friend. (Even so, this can be off-putting.) If you are conducting business, always excuse yourself from the table, as it is totally unprofessional to discuss business with another client present or to discuss personal matters. Dining is an opportunity for interpersonal interaction.
4. Avoid in-depth personal conversations while on public transportation. You are inviting the public to hear about your private life. It is also disrespectful to those who may be working or trying to enjoy quite time.
5. When driving, wear a headset and do not text. It is not only dangerous, but against the law.
6. When walking down a public street avoid personal conversations and be mindful of your surroundings.
7. When on the phone, be aware of the volume of your voice. Noise pollution can be very disruptive.
8. Turn off your cell phones while at the Doctor’s office.
9. Make sure your ringer is at a volume that alerts you and not everyone in the building or surroundings.
10. When taking personal calls, excuse yourself to a private area.
11. Keep personal conversations private. Give yourself and the person you are speaking with that common courtesy.
12. When you are not using your phone turn your phone off or let your phone go to voicemail after 4 rings.
13. Your voice message should inform others of who they have reached. Such as you have reached the phone of Aimee Logan, please leave your name and number and I will get back to you at my earliest convenience.
14. It is appropriate for children to have cell phones, but it is up to the parents to be discerning about the time usage and what functions are appropriate or not appropriate.
15. It is not appropriate to speak on the cell phone while in a store engaging with store help. The exception is if you make a call to ask a question about a shopping item.
16. Be aware that phones have cameras and you never know when someone might document something. We are always on display.
17. Turn your cell phone off during business meetings.
18. When on a cell phone conducting business, let your audience know that you are on a cell phone, so that they will be aware of external noises. When in areas of poor reception, let the other person know and always have a call back number in case you are disconnected.
19. Consider the 10 foot rule, while using your phone in public.
20. Cellphones should not be used in an elevator, medical office, museum, church, cemetery or library. There are exceptions to this, but be mindful of areas of worship, sacred places or enclosed public areas. Should calls be taken, keep conversations short, sweet and to the point.
To have the world at our finger tips, is it a blessing or curse? The blessings far outweigh the disadvantages as long as people know that there are social rules to the the etiquette of cell phone usage. The heart of etiquette is awareness and abiding by the golden rule. We just need to be mindful of others and how our behavior on the cell phone effects the public in which we all engage. When in doubt, avoid it. The only way we can achieve a balance is to take responsibility of our own actions and to stop complaining about the behavior of others. Take ownership of your life and be the change you want to see in the world. Education, discipline and practice are the foundation of changing behavior. Go for it and know that you are paving the way in the modern technological world as to what it means to be a lady or gentleman.
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