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Mind Your Mobile Manners – Phone Etiquette Guide

Counter to conventional wisdom, I believe in boundaries when it comes to mobile phone usage. What happened to common courtesy and basic respect for others?

Counter to conventional wisdom, I believe in boundaries when it comes to mobile phone usage. What happened to common courtesy and basic respect for others? Call me old-fashioned but it seems the technological revolution has set Miss Manners aside. Let’s instill some chivalry back into our crazy mobile world.

Here are my top 10 rules for cell phone etiquette

  1. Don’t continue a phone call when you’re paying for your purchases. Not only is it rude to the barista or salesperson, but the people behind you in line would rather not participate in your private business.
  2. Don’t text in meetings, unless it’s urgent. Urgent, like your kid’s hair is on fire or the Queen of England needs to reach you. It’s disrespectful to your colleagues.
  3. Don’t use your phone at the dinner table. No, not even for a quick text exchange with your girlfriend or to check the baseball scores. In the age of nothing is sacred, I argue that the dinner table is, so power down or better yet, leave your device in the other room. The same goes for dining out. Give your attention to the people at the table.
  4. Don’t use your Bluetooth when you’re walking down the street or in an airport. First, you look weird, like you’re talking to yourself, and second, you look weird and it’s annoying.
  5. Don’t shout when you’re talking on the phone. Phones these days have pretty powerful microphones and speakers so the person on the other end of the line can hear just fine. This habit is particularly irritating when you’re sitting on an airplane either before or after takeoff and someone shouts into their phone like they’re talking to their deaf grandma.
  6. Turn it off in church and the theater, no exceptions. Unless God is calling, there is no earthly excuse to hear a phone ringing or pinging during a religious service. It’s just as taboo in a movie theater, during a play, musical or other concert or in a library or museum.
  7. Leave the room if you must talk when you’re in a crowded waiting room. The only thing that can make matters worse when you’re feeling under the weather is having to endure someone else’s phone conversation.
  8. Put it away during major sporting events. I had the great fortune of going to the championship game of the World Series last fall. The only downer to the experience was the young childsitting behind me who didn’t see one minute of the game because she was more interested in her iPad. I know plenty of people who would have given their eye teeth for that seat! And if you need to snap a photo at one of those once-in-a-lifetime events, do it quickly and stash your phone. In my keepsake photo, as the Red Sox clinched the championship, all you can see is a sea of smart phones and if you look really closely, you can glimpse a sliver of green of Fenway Park.
  9. Know when to stop tapping and start talking. Sometimes it’s not possible to cover a complex topic by text so when the person you’re communicating with calls, have the courtesy to answer the phone. He knows you’re there.
  10. If you must talk and drive, go hands-free and make driving your priority. There’s almost nothing more maddening than trying to rush to work only to be slowed down by the meandering driving of the person in front of you, who is far more interested in her phone conversation than keeping her car on the road and motoring forward.

So, it’s time we all recapture some of the manners our mothers taught us. Or, mind the three “Be’s”: Be respectful, Be kind, Be considerate. But if you don’t like my phone etiquette rules, check out the Huffington Post.

Or see these rules from the Emily Post Institute.




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