Cell Phone Etiquette

Cell Phone Etiquette

Happy New Year and New Beginnings!  It is that time of year when we reflect on the changes we want to make to live a more fulfilling life.  Whether it is correcting a bad habit, helping others or finally engaging in something that we have talked about for years, a new year’s resolution involves a commitment for betterment. Research has identified that the top five resolutions people make involve exercise, eating healthy, stop smoking, less stress, and debt management.

Cellular phones are now everyone’s best friend.  We live in a world where we “don’t leave home without it.”  Everywhere we turn, someone is engaged in a phone conversation.  Let’s venture into the New Year by making a conscious effort to observe the guidelines of etiquette as it relates to using our phones in public places.

The following are some general rules that all cell phone users should adhere to:

Be mindful that others may not want to hear you conduct business and personal affairs.

Respect the personal space of others around you.  Lately, I have heard one-sided conversations concerning intimate relationships, real-estate negotiations, family issues, child rearing and even pet concerns.  Forcing others to listen to your affairs is highly disrespectful.  If you are initiating or receiving calls while in the midst of others, move to a private area.

Honor the rules of cell phone usage when attending events and inside certain establishments.

When requested to turn off your phones, respond immediately!  Turn phones off when entering places such as theaters, churches, the symphony, an airplane, the doctor’s office, a funeral home, the library or a classroom.

It is inappropriate to use a cellular phone while dining in restaurants, even fast-food establishments.

Not only can it be annoying to your dining companions, but itis disruptive to nearby diners who may be celebrating special and memorable occasions.  If you are awaiting an important call, advise the other diners ahead of time, set your phone on vibrate, then excuse yourself from the table when the call comes through.

Unless a call is urgent, allow callers to be directed to voicemail.

Trust voicemail features.  In a private or appropriate environment, retrieve messages and return calls promptly.  When establishing your voicemail message, be brief.  For example: “Hello, you have reached Tina Hayes.  I’m not available. Leave a message along with your telephone number and I will return the call as soon as possible.”  Smile as you record your message to reflect a friendly demeanor.  Please note, it is poor taste to require callers to listen to long inserts of your favorite songs before being allowed to leave a message.

Ringtones, just like the clothing you wear, are a reflection of your taste and decorum.

Even though the selections and availability of ringtones are limitless, use discretion when choosing yours.  Keep in mind that these tones will be heard not only by you, but by others (business associates, clients, relatives’ friends, etc).  What message are you sending?

Set the ringer to “acceptable,” just loud enough for you to hear from your purse or pocket.  Better yet, use the vibrate function.

Take extra precautions to keep conversations private.

Finally, be considerate of those in close vicinities.  Never yell while using your phone in public and make sure your emotions are in control.  Be mindful of small children and eliminate the use of profanity.

The majority of Americans own and use cellular phones.  Kindergartners and even great-grandmothers have become users.  The days of pay phones and pagers are becoming extinct.  The advancement of technology is allowing us to communicate freely with no limitations. It is important to adhere to the etiquette guidelines of common courtesy when using a phone in public.  These rules were not developed to place more limitations on you, but to make public places more respectful and enjoyable for others.  As part of our new beginnings, let’s make cell phone etiquette one of our top five resolutions for 2011.

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Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Antioch, CA. As a passionate instructor dedicated to providing quality and professional etiquette training to her clients, Mrs. Tina Hayes promotes the awareness that social presentation and behaviors are important to be successful in today's society for all ages.