Monday, December 7, 2009

Manners Monday: Cell Phone Etiquette

Do you have friends, colleagues or family members that are rude when it comes to using their cell phones? We would all like to think after years of having the cell phone in existence that most would know how to mind their mobile phone manners but it is actually becoming more of a problem.

As cell phones have become more sophisticated and user-friendly so have their usage and their acceptability in many public places. It's not uncommon to see people typing on their blackberry during their child's Christmas pageant, or chatting away while they're at the bank teller window. While cell phones by nature were meant to be used for safety and convenience, the way they are used can be down right disrespectful.

After working part time at a local Target store for the Christmas season and being at the checkout lanes the odd time (that was not my regular role), I've got to witness all sorts of interesting things. One particularly ignorant woman was talking on her cell the whole time and gossiping about a friend to what sounded like another friend. She was bad talking someone and being rude to me, she wouldn't even look up in my direction to say hello or say thank you when I handed her change to her. On the contrary I had another lady who apologized profusely after getting off of her cell since she was speaking to an ill friend who wouldn't let her off the phone. She told me she thinks it's SO rude when people do that and she really didn't want to do that to me. I could hear her conversation and assured her it was not a problem. She was so sincere and sweet and clearly understood cell phone etiquette.

After September's blog poll vote on your favorite blog topics, it's clear that 82% of you want to know more about etiquette and manners, so here is another of many more posts to come.

Below is a list of quick tips on how to be courteous around others while on your phone.

Cell Phone Etiquette Reminders

1. While Visiting- If you're out for dinner with a friend, that is not the time to leave your cell on and start replying to text messages or taking calls, unless it is for an emergency. Perhaps you're a mom and you have a new babysitter, you might want to leave it on vibrate just in case. For regular calls, it is best to leave your phone off so you can fully enjoy the other person's company. Taking the call tells your friend that the text messages and calls are more important that what you are doing together at the moment.

I have a friend that is notorious for texting and taking calls while we go to dinner or are out and about. I love her to pieces but that is one thing I wish she wouldn't do, especially when our time together can be limited with us both being so busy.

2. The Noise Factor- Why is it that the same people who have the most obnoxious ring tones are also the same people who have their volume raised to the max? Keep ringing volumes to a moderate level or turn them to vibrate. When in a public place; especially one that demands quiet such as a library, doctor's office (where they are often not allowed at all) and the movies, keep them on vibrate if you must have them on at all. It's kind of like smoking, you might be enjoying it, but nobody else wants to be subjected to it. Other important places to turn your phone off are restaurants, church, special performances and the gym. Really-how focused can you be on your workout with a cell phone in one hand?

3. Safety Hazard- We've all heard about how dangerous it can be to drive while dialing or texting on mobile phones, but the truth is I don't think we really think hard about it until we're almost driven off the road by a distracted driver or know someone who has been. Three times now this year alone I have almost been hit or driven off the road by someone on their cell phone. It's so unnecessary and the important thing to ask yourself is: " Is my phone call worth killing someone or totaling my car?" I'm certain everyone would answer no, but we still have so many on the road who do. There is nothing that can't wait until you are off the roads. Kudos to the state of California and the province of Ontario (where I grew up) in Canada who both have banned cell phone usage while driving.

4. Loud Talkers- Whether people do it to get attention from others or they are just really THAT loud, we'll never know but whatever the reason, it is rude to talk excessively loud, especially while on a cell phone in public. It's hard enough to concentrate and think most days with the amount of distractions around us. If it's not flashing billboards, then it's the radio or the store's background music. I am a bold person and while I always strive to be as courteous, polite and well mannered as possible to everyone, there are times when a 'Shhhhhh' has come out of my mouth in the library or another quiet place, and others surrounding me have smiled, sighed with relief and acknowledged what they didn't feel comfortable to do themselves. Sometimes people are just plain rude and if we don't stop them in their tracks, their poor manners will continue.

5. Inappropriate Public Conversations- I am always amazed at what people will talk about on their cell phones. Topics that you'd make sure nobody was around to hear at home or in the office are suddenly acceptable in public. Who knew? I can assure you that passers-by don't want to hear the dirty details of your nasty divorce and see you cry, how wasted you were the night before, who you hooked up with on the weekend or all the latest details of how broke you are and why you hate your job so much. If a topic comes up while you are not in a private place to discuss it, ask the person if you can continue the conversation later.

6. Ignoring While Ordering- I'm sure you've seen the many people in lines at stores, fast food drive thrus, line ups and the like on their cell phones, they're usually breaking one of the above rules along with just being plain irritating and rude to the person taking their order. As I described about the Target customer above, this is becoming so much of an issue that stores and fast food places are now starting to place signs up like the one at the top of this post. You can see a McDonald's location decided to take action. Good for them!

What is the worst scenario you've encountered with a rude person on a cell phone?


  1. I worked at a convenience store about 10 years ago and even though cell phones weren't as popular as they are now, there was still the rude people in line. I was working and someone came up to the counter during rush hour on their cell phone. I asked him if he had gas and put his finger up as if to say, "just a minute". Well, that turned into like 3 minutes and I asked him again and he had the nerve to say to me "can't you see I am on the phon????" I was so embarrased but then asked him to take his phone call outside because I have other customers waiting behind him. The people behind him were also getting very irritated that he was taking his time and then had been rude to me when I was just trying to do my job.


  2. Thanks for sharing this post. Even with companies, proper communication etiquette should be observed. It is not enough for them to have their own 1800 Number, being able to observe correct phone etiquette is all that matters.


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