At one point or another, most everyone is guilty of focusing too much attention on a cell phone rather than on people and events around them. Many have also awkwardly encountered someone else’s personal call, or needed to repeat themselves because a family member or colleague was focusing on a screen rather than a face. July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, a time for everyone to reflect on cell phone etiquette and device use. Observe and honor Cell Phone Courtesy Month this year by respecting the following telephone etiquette tips.
1. Silence is golden
Whether at work, in a movie theater, at a restaurant or in a meeting, it’s polite to have phones switched to silent mode. Even if it’s switched to vibrate mode, important calls and messages won’t get missed as notifications will still come through. Always consider the placement of a cell phone; if placed on a hard surface it will vibrate loudly, which can be very distracting in meetings.
2. Suppress the screen
Most everyone feels the need to be accessible 24/7. Cell phone addictions detract from face-to-face time, whether at home, at work, or even when socializing with friends. Focus on spending quality time with family and incorporate rules for appropriate usage. Consider a ban on cell phone use at mealtimes and during family movie/TV time.
It’s also important to have proper cell phone etiquette in the workplace. It’s always best to refrain from answering phone calls and checking texts and emails during meetings. Turn notifications off on social media apps to ensure a productive and focused workday.
The same goes for using phones while driving. The rule is simple: No Texting While Driving. Many countries and cities ban the use of cell phones while driving. Using a phone while behind the wheel could be breaking the law. If phone usage is imperative, pull over to a safe area. Some newer vehicles include integrated hands-free options, but there are alternatives for vehicles that don’t offer hands-free options. There are a wide range of Bluetooth headsets to make and receive calls safely.
3. Move away
Before using a phone, move to an appropriate area. If at work, personal calls should be kept to a minimum, especially if there’s a chance they could get intense or emotional. If calls must be taken, step outside and try to move away from windows and building entrances. It can be off-putting for people inside to see others anxiously pacing or gesturing through a conversation. If at home, move to a different room in the house so that others aren’t disturbed.
4. Keep it confidential
Users instinctively raise their voice when cell connections become weak. Other times, callers can get so caught up in a conversation that they forget location. When in public, use earbuds while on calls to ensure those on the other end of the line can be heard clearly. Many earbuds also have a microphone that helps cut out background noise, reducing the need to speak louder. Remember the close confines of buses, trains, and planes means that everyone around can hear each other. Avoid confidential conversations in public areas. Aside from telling the world all about the caller’s private business, it can also make those around the caller feel uncomfortable.
5. Be discreet
Some people enjoy working, reading or studying in silence, whereas others focus better with music and don’t find background noise distracting. Others enjoy running or walking surrounded by the sounds in the street while many prefer the motivation of upbeat tunes. An ideal way for users to listen to music without disturbing those around them is by using wireless headphones. They provide the freedom to work or exercise without disturbing those around them.
When answering phone calls, it’s courteous for users to excuse themselves as quickly as possible with an apology such as, “I apologize, this is an important call. Please excuse me”. Sometimes, a call is missed or a message isn’t answered straight away. Respond to texts and emails, or return calls when it is appropriate to do so. It will be polite to include an apology in the reply, or when returning the phone call, if the response is delayed.
There’s always an exception to the rule. Medical professionals need to keep a phone accessible in case of emergencies. Parents whose children are with a babysitter or caregiver will also want their cell phone handy in case they are needed. The best way to answer the phone, if accepting an urgent or important call, is to advise those around you before picking up. Keep these cell phone etiquette tips in mind during National Cell Phone Courtesy Month and all yearlong to make sure you’re present for your family, friends and colleagues. You’ll be happy you to have stronger connections and they’ll feel like your first priority.