Mobile phones are now an integrated part of life all over the world. But remember this rule of thumb when it comes to phone etiquette: Just because you can use your cell phone during a given situation, doesn't mean that you should. It's remarkable that technology enables to us to carry a phone, but we tend to forget that, during certain situations, it can be irritating to others -- and even disrespectful -- to conduct a conversation on your mobile phone. A good way to determine whether you should take a phone call is to think of another golden rule: Treat others the way you wish to be treated.
Your excitement about owning the newest mobile phone on the market is no excuse for bad manners. It doesn't matter if your gadget lets you browse the Internet or send texts while talking to someone -- refrain from multitasking and focus on the conversation at hand. Avoid talking on the phone in places with a lot of noise, like bus terminals or a busy street, because the person on the other end will have a hard time hearing you. If the connection is bad or the call keeps dropping, end the call instead of trying to force the conversation.
Answer the phone within the first three rings. A phone that rings continuously -- and loudly -- annoys the people around you. Turn off the phone in settings like classrooms, theaters, funerals and libraries. If you must take a call during such a situation, immediately leave the room. Keep your voice down and your conversations brief. Move at least 10 feet away from other people so they don't have to hear you talk. Put the phone away when someone is waiting on you in a store or a restaurant: Talking on the phone is rude to the person serving you and causes delays, making the people behind you wait in line longer for service. Save highly personal conversations, such as test results from your doctor's office or the state of your marriage, for when no one else is around -- many people don't want to hear intimate information about strangers.
Whenever you are out on a date, shut your phone off. Your date has set aside time to get to know you, and it's impolite to take calls or text when you're supposed to be focusing on him. If you're a parent who needs to be available in case your babysitter calls, set the phone to vibrate. Promise your date that although you'll need to check it in case the sitter contacts you, that is the only phone call you'll take. Excuse yourself, step into the restroom or lobby, and keep the conversation short if you absolutely have to use the phone. If you feel that business, a family emergency or a sick child is going to keep you on the phone that evening, ask your date to meet you at another time.
In the Workplace
If you only use your phone for personal calls, shut it off when you're at work. Use your break time to check your voice mail and text messages, and find a private place to talk when you make a call. Never take personal calls during any kind of business meeting. If your phone is also used for business purposes, turn the ringer on low and avoid using obnoxious ring tones. Keep your business calls as brief as possible, and respect designated quiet zones in your building. For instance, if you're not supposed to talk around cubicles or lunch areas, step into the lobby or an empty meeting room.
There are still rules of etiquette to follow with your mobile phone if you live with other people. Conduct your conversations in a place where you have privacy and won't disturb others, like your front porch or bedroom. Don't use the phone during such family times as meals or when company is visiting. Set a limit on how long you are on the phone with others each day -- your family wants to spend time with you, too.
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