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Cell Phone Manner & Etiquette
By: Aliza Rath

Texting, sexting, chatting, browsing, messaging and BBM; There are about a million reasons why we all live with our cell phones glued to our hands. There are so many positive things we get from them; the most important thing is instant gratification. Everything we have questions for is at our fingertips waiting for us to queue up the answers. It is an amazing technological tool. The truth is although you may be denial; there is a time and place for using your cell phone. One thing cell phone and network providers didn't include in your monthly plan is an etiquette guide or handbook for cell phone manners.  As a working professional, I understand the need to constantly be available when you are on the go.  However, there is a fine line between busy and being just plain rude! At My Image Expert we offer etiquette seminars that can be given in the workplace or "one on one" for those who are unsure about common law rules that relate to etiquette.

Cell phones are like wallets, everyone has one, but we don't all need to share what's in it. When you are on your cell phone and having a private conversation, it is uncomfortable for the people around you to be involved. Now you may not think they are involved, but realistically if you are in a public place having a private conversation you have made it very public.  Think about the message you send to people around you.  Whether you are in familiar company or in a room crowded with strangers, you send a message that you mentally unavailable and you do not care who hears your conversation.. Firstly, it is uncomfortable for the people in the near vicinity because they do not want to be incorporated. Secondly, it makes people around you frustrated because you are interrupting their life. Third, speaking on your cell phone in a space where others can hear it is inconsiderate and rude.  The best thing to do is to excuse yourself and find a private place to conduct your conversation.  This way you leave a level of mystique and maintain good manners along with being considerate.  

One of the worst things you can do is be on your cell phone in a private conversation when in public. Below are the top six worst places for talking, texting or emailing on your cell phone.

1. At the Checkout Counter- Whether you are buying groceries or shoes, the checkout counter is one of the rudest places to be talking on your phone. Not only because you are dealing one on one with a person not involved with the conversation, they are helping you out by getting your sale processed and you are extremely inconsiderate of their purpose. It is like you are ignoring them while they have to help you.  Give them proper consideration and allow them to help you.  The checkout counter is fortunately a quick experience so all calls can wait a few minutes until you are out of the store or done at the counter.

2. At dinner/ In a Restaurant- When dining with another person and being on a cell phone whether it be work or a personal call this is extremely rude. You not only shouldn't be talking on your cell when out to dinner with another, texting or email checking is super offensive. This is sending the message to the person you are with that they are not as important or significant to you as your incoming message. This is especially offensive if you were on a first date, it does not shed a good light on you. Most women find it annoying when you are your phone during a date.  Whatever is tugging at you can be addressed once the date is finished or excuse yourself to the bathroom and handle your business, no pun intended! 

If you are in a relationship, sometimes it is more tolerable.  That doesn't mean you should engage in cell phone activity. The same rules apply.  Theo only difference is that if you are in a relationship, the other will not hold back and she will tell you that you are being rude!  When you are dining in restaurant, it is impolite to keep your cell phone on the table.  Imagine all the germs that accumulate on your phone during day.  It is filthy and should not be placed on the table while you are dining.  If you are expecting a call or text, keep it on vibrate and place it in your pocket.  When your call or text comes in, you will feel it instead of hearing it!  Excuse yourself from the table and head outside or to the bar to address the issues at hand.

3. In a dressing room- When you are in a place that is confined with four walls like a dressing room it doesn't mean you are alone in that room. If you are on your cell phone others can definitely hear you and your conversation. This situation makes it awkward because if you pretend you are the only one in the room, others will pretend you cannot hear them telling you to get off your cell phones. Then it could get ugly, all because you are being loud and rude to those in your close proximity. This also applies to the public bathroom.  I can't tell you how many times I have been in the bathroom or gym locker room and people are engaging in cell conversation.  It is violating other people's privacy and they may easily be offended to the point here they will say something.  Avoid the situation entirely and wait until you are done to have your conversation in an open room or outside.

4. In an elevator- An elevator is one of the worst places to be on your cell phone because the size of the space is so incredibly small. The other persons around you cannot not only hear what you are saying but you force them to have no other choice but to listen. Due to the echo in the small space, your conversation is now open for public discussion.  Calls are usually lost in the elevator shaft anyway so instead of waiting for it to happen just wait until you get out!

5. In a waiting room- In most waiting rooms talking on your cell phone is prohibited. This is not only a place for you to wait but everyone around are waiting as well. Places that fall under waiting room etiquette include: the bus, the post office, the bank, the train or in line for groceries. These places are best for texting or sms. The truth of the matter is we all hate waiting, but there is no need to complain to your friend on the phone while people behind you have to suffer through you complaining as well. This is the most irritating conversation to hear you complain while others around you are doing the same thing you are and not saying a word.

6. Shopping in a store- When you are shopping in a store and dealing with a crisis over the phone, have some respect for those around you and do not talk on your cell phones. Some people shopping are trying to enjoy themselves, sales people are trying to help you or even greet you. It is the rudest when people are on their phone come in the sales person is only doing their job to greet and you raise your finger to your lips. Not only  do you look like you could care less about anyone else in the room, but you just told a complete stranger who was just doing their job to be quiet, when you came in to their store. Just think it over for a bit and see how that makes a bit of sense.

So how do you end a call when you are walking into a public place? The best thing to do is if you are in the middle of a conversation is to find an ending point and ask to call back the person as soon as you are able. When someone hears that you are being respectful of them because you don't want to discuss their business in the public ear, they will regard your actions more favorably. Since you are leaving the conversation open ended, they can trust that you will be caring enough to return the call and that you are caring enough to not share it publicly. If someone is calling you while you are in a public place, if you have the option take the call outside or just have the person leave a message and simply explain to them you were waiting to pay for your groceries and did not want to be rude to the person working there.

Cell phone etiquette is an important tool in today's society. At the rate we are going, cell phones will be banned just like cigarettes in restaurants if we don't stop and look at how we use them. They are loud, rude and obnoxious when being abused. My Image Expert offers etiquette services that can direct you and your peers about the common courtesy of cell phone usage. If you absolutely have to use your phone in one of the places listed above be courteous and excuse yourself politely to do so. This shows respect and common decency for the person you are with and those around you . Luckily there are two buttons that help with cell phone etiquette like silent or vibrate, don't be afraid to use them.

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