Tips for National Cell Phone Courtesy Month

We’ve all been subjected to hearing someone else’s conversation while on a bus, train, plane, or in public spaces. Speaking on a cell phone makes some of us forget our manners. Held each July, National Cell Phone Courtesy Month encourages us to evaluate our cellular habits and consider others before we reach for our phone. The goal is to bring polite phone usage back in style. Here are some dos and don’ts while using a cell phone:

  • Silent the phone whenever you’re spending time with anyone. If you are attending a performance of any kind, turn the phone off. There are exceptions to this rule for medical professionals or other expectant emergency situations.
  • Speakerphone mode should not be used in public. Because a telephone call is a private communication, speakerphones shouldn’t be used unless you can secure the conversation in a private place. Speakerphones are not appropriate for use in a cubicle, and confined spaces in public including planes, buses, trains, or subways.
  • Hidden phones are forgotten phones. We pay attention to the people in the room, the performance, or the meeting. It’s also a signal to the people we are with that they are important to us.
  • Step away if you do need to take a call. No one needs to hear your conversation. When taking or taking a call, use the 10-foot rule and move away from the building including windows. No one wants to see pacing or gesturing during your conversation. Refrain from confidential conversations on planes, trains, and automobiles.
  • Shhh. Monitor the volume of your voice. Even when you step away, voices carry.
  • Pause before sending emails, texts or social media posts. Consider the content, especially if it is posted in haste. Ask yourself the following questions.
    • Will I regret sending this later?
    • Am I angry?
    • Will this hurt someone?
    • Is this appropriate?
    • Will this affect my job or relationship?
  • Don’t use your phone and drive. Many states prohibit cellular use or limit it to hands-free only. Any message can wait until you arrive at your destination. If it truly is urgent, pull to a safe stopping area to receive the message or call.
  • Don’t let your mobile device become a social hindrance. We often look to our phone for social engagement when we don’t know what else to do. Meet new people when you are in a new circle of people and begin networking with the people near you. Expand your social circle face to face and broaden the world around you.

Our phones are tools. They shouldn’t replace every social context in our lives. Practice a little courtesy and gain improved relationships everywhere you go. Encourage your friends and families to join you throughout the month. Use #CellPhoneCourtesyMonth to share on social media.

In 2002, Jacqueline Whitmore, a Palm Beach, Florida manners expert, created National Cell Phone Courtesy Month to increase phone etiquette.

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