Cell Phone Etiquette

Posted by Todd Smith

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I once wrote on the Facebook Little Things Matter fan page two posts about cell phone etiquette. The comments I received clearly expressed passionate opinions about the proper use of cell phones. There was a strong consensus that talking on or texting and e-mailing from your cell phone in certain places and at certain times is inappropriate, irritating, and downright rude. I share their opinion.

If you don’t show respect and common courtesy when using your cell phone, you run the risk of aggravating people and destroying your personal brand. On the other hand, if you use discretion and follow the simple recommendations outlined below, you will be able to enhance the impression you make.

Avoid using your cell phone…

1. In public places—When you are in public places where others can hear your conversation, you should avoid talking on your cell phone. When your phone rings, let it go to voicemail.

If you determine it is ABSOLUTELY critical to accept the call, be respectful of others. If possible, walk outside or to a private area where others won’t be annoyed or distracted by your conversation. If there is no escaping, then keep your voice down and cover your mouth to keep your voice from traveling and wrap up the call as soon as possible.

2. When spending time with the family—Unless you have a job that requires you to be on call 24 hours a day, be respectful of your family by not talking, texting, or e-mailing people when you are together. With decades under my belt as an entrepreneur, I know there will be exceptions. When I do make an exception, I always apologize to my family members. Once again, the example we set for our children will pave their way to appropriate and effective behavior.

3. When traveling with others in a car —When you’re spending time with people in a car, give them your full attention. Once again, there will always be exceptions, but the key is to make them exceptions and not the general rule.

4. While driving, period—If you find it hard to talk on the phone and focus on driving at the same time, then avoid talking on the phone in your car. If an important call does come in, pull over. I hope it goes without saying that we should never check and respond to e-mails nor send or answer text messages while driving. The fatality statistics due to distracted driving are staggering.

5. While at work—If you are using your cell phone for personal matters during the time you are being paid to do your job, you are stealing from your employer. When you steal from your employer, not only will others lose respect for you, but you will also likely lose respect for yourself. After all, how can you respect yourself when you are doing things you shouldn’t be doing? If there are personal calls, texts, and e-mails that must be returned during your workday, do so during your break or lunch hour.

6. During meetings—When you attend a meeting or share a meal with someone, put your phone on silent mode. Or even better, leave it in the car. Also, don’t text or e-mail during the meeting. Even though your phone may not make sounds, your eyes and attention are diverted from the other people in attendance. Your lack of attention to them demonstrates disrespect. Besides, how can you concentrate on the discussion when you are typing or reading messages?

7. When spending time with your friends—If you’re like me, you probably don’t have a lot of time to spend with your friends. So when you are together, why wouldn’t you give them your undivided attention? When I am out socially, you will very seldom see me with my phone. I want to thoroughly enjoy my experience and show respect for those who chose to spend time with me.

Here is one of the biggest takeaways of today’s lesson: don’t let your cell phone become an addiction. Learn to control the times when it is used. Some of us grew up without cell phones and we lived our lives just fine. If it’s a true emergency, we all know how to call 911. Most things can wait until the time when it is appropriate to take the call or respond to the e-mail or text. If you follow my recommendations, your world will become more enjoyable, your time management skills will improve and the people around you will feel more valued.

One of the fastest ways to lose a person’s respect is to not value their time.

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 43 years and founder of Little Things Matter. This blog contains over 200 of his timeless life lessons.

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