Advice for Students

Cellphone Etiquette: Keep Your Surroundings in Mind

January 26, 2012  |     |   0 Comment

I was recently shopping at our local grocery store to pick up a few items for dinner.  The grocery store is small, quaint and always stocked with the best of the best.  I should  mention that I decided to do this shopping mid-afternoon on a Saturday.  I even managed to convince my husband to join me. As expected, the store was jammed with people, carts all over the place, aisles and spaces filled.  Not necessarily a “calming” experience.  But the hustle and bustle of a busy store was not the issue that perplexed me.  It was the woman who was shopping nearby while having a long and very loud conversation on her cellphone. This made me perplexed.  Not only was this extremely annoying, but also rude.

The etiquette for cellphone use follows all of the same principals of good manners, which is to always be considerate of others and to keep your surroundings in mind. Talking on your cellphone in public may, and did in my situation, annoy those around you.  You are having a private conversation – so take it in a private space, not a public space. Be polite and respect the personal space of the people around you.

I will acknowledge that there may be times when answering your phone in a public place may be required, such as a call from a family member, a call from work, or in the case of an emergency.  Having a general, private and lengthy conversation with a friend or colleague while in a public place is not necessary.  Use your judgment and act accordingly.  Here are some cellphone etiquette tips to keep in mind if, in your judgment, you have to make or take a cellphone call in a public environment:

  • Respect the personal space of others in your environment by taking the call to a place that is as private as you can find; you should be at least 10 feet or more away from people.
  • Refrain from using your phone in a place where others are not able to escape your conversation, such as an elevator, public transit, or even a grocery store.
  • Speak softly.  No need to shout. We don’t want to hear your conversation.
  • Keep a deeply personal conversation just that – personal. Leave the public space you may be in and take the call in a private space. If you feel stuck – continue your conversation in your parked car.
  • Never interrupt a face-to-face conversation in order to take a cellphone call.  The person you are with always takes priority. To do otherwise will say to that person that they are not important and the person who is calling, is.
  • Turn your cellphone OFF when attending particular events or meetings such as client meetings, work-related meetings, weddings, funerals, court, movies, performances, sports events, classes, places of worship, restrooms, restaurants, libraries, museums, and doctor or dentist waiting rooms.

And note to self: never grocery shop on a Saturday afternoon!



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