The supporters of National Cell Phone Courtesy Month may have created for themselves an unwinnable battle against people who refuse to be polite.
What’s your biggest pet peeves when it comes to people using cell phones? Chances are most of them will be covered by the list of action items I’ve compiled.
July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, an observance created by Jacqueline Whitmore, one of the nation’s leading experts on etiquette and protocol, according to the Weimer Group.
Here are just a few ways you can take part (and they’re things you should be doing all 12 months of the year, not just this one).
1. Put down the phone and drive!
In many places nowadays, it’s actually illegal to make calls or fool with your phone while you’re driving. Texting is definitely a no-no. The way people drive these days, they need to focus as much of their attention as possible on the road, not on their device!
2. If you’re meeting face-to-face, keep it eye-to-eye.
Stop checking your phone every few minutes during meetings. If that email you’re waiting on is that important, the sender should be at the meeting! But to those who actually are, it’s rude and it shows them you don’t respect them enough to be attentive. If one of those attendees happens to be a supervisor, it could send the wrong message to the wrong person.
3. If you’re in a retail space, hang up the phone!
It’s considered rude — always rude — to be talking on a cell phone when placing an order or standing in a checkout line. The server may actually need to have a brief conversation with you, and waiting for you to finish your sentence holds everyone up, including the people angrily waiting behind you with those heavy shopping carts they’d like to run over you with. I spotted one of my all-time favorite signs at a coffee shop cash register a few years back. It read (and I’m paraphrasing), “We’ll be happy to wait on you as soon as you put your cell phone away.” And they were serious, too. I loved that place.
4. Make private calls in private.
If you have to talk about sensitive subjects, the kind of thing the Facebook crowd might label as “TMI,” then please go somewhere private and have that conversation. The people just trying to mind their own business in Starbucks would love to be able to enjoy their coffee in peace without knowing details that were not meant for their ears. If you feel the need to get into a shouting match, excuse yourself.
5. Phones have the Vibrate option for a reason.
For some reason, it seems those who have the loudest, most annoying cellphone ringtones simply refuse to ever switch their phone to vibrate. If you’re in an office, for example, it’s so much more polite not to startle your co-workers with that ringtone when a simple vibrate can just as effectively alert you — and only you — that a call is coming in.
6. Enough with the ‘Cell Yell!’
Here’s a little tip that may come as a shock: when you’re talking on your cell phone, people who are near you can hear your conversation. Here’s another little tip: it’s amazing how technology has evolved in more than 100 years: the microphone on a cellphone can effectively reproduce your voice to the person with whom you’re speaking…without your having to yell. Use your “indoor” voice even if your outdoors.
7. Learn to love your voicemail.
Have you ever been spending time with a friend who interrupts your in-person time every time the phone rings? That fancy little phone of yours has voicemail. Not every person who calls you is calling with a message so desperately important that it can’t wait at least a few minutes, particularly if you’re spending “quality time” with someone in real life. The message you send to your companion, no matter how much you may apologize as you take the call, is that their time isn’t that important to you compared to whoever is calling. That’s no kind of quality, is it?
Employing these cell phone courtesy practices will definitely be appreciated by those around you. It might even help you enjoy your time, too.