Have you ever been in a public stall and in comes someone on their cell phone. You pray that as they talk someone in another stall, or perhaps you yourself, let one rip as loud as possible. It truly amazes me how some people cannot let go of their phones. Carrying it everywhere, literally EVERYWHERE, to the point where many sleep with it under their pillows.
What got me thinking about this whole subject was an incident that occurred to me. (This may seem a bit inappropriate but it sets the scene.) As I went about my business in a washroom stall at work, my phone went off. Screening the call the first time I anticipated a second call. When the second call came in, the individual in the stall next to me said, “Just pick it up, it’s obviously important”. I ignored the comment, and the call and let it go to voicemail.
I found it very strange that someone would actually come out and say that. I would understand if it was an email or perhaps a text message, but to take a call while doing your business is not something that I condone. Same goes for carrying on a conversation that began outside of the washroom into it. If it is important to keep with the call, then postpone your trip to the facilities. If you can’t hold it, then end the call and let the person know you will get back to them.
While researching this topic online, I came across various articles of “Phone Etiquettes” and lists of things to avoid or never to do. Here is my take from everything I have read and my set of “rules”.
- No talking in the washroom – I think that this one is really simple. When you walk into the washroom or are already there, don’t pick up your phone. Unless you want someone on the other end to hear what people are doing and discover the true location of where you are.
- The proximity rule – This one is a bit new for me but makes a lot of sense. Respect a unwritten 10-feet rule. If you are in a crowded bus or walking along the side of the street, don’t interrupt others by your conversation. Also, make sure that it is appropriate for the setting your in. If you are talking about important business decisions for your company or perhaps what you did the night before, it might be best kept out of the hearing reach of a passerby or those you are sharing the public transit with.
- Moderate voice – Hot on the subject of proximity, is the volume of your voice. Don’t boost it when you have people around you. Mic’s have advanced so much in the recent years that they will pick up the faintest of sounds typically. As long as the carriers network can carry and keep the call going.
- Texting during social gatherings – I believe many of us are guilty of this one, me including. I will check my emails or texts when I am out with friends. I do it out of habit and not trying to be rude. It’s hard to ignore that blinking red light on your blackberry or perhaps that vibration from you iPhone. If possible, turn off the vibration, put it on silent. Or if it is truly important, excuse yourself to take that call or write back to that email or text.
- Lengthy Voicemails – Many of us will know who called. Most of us invest that $6-$8 for caller ID. If your going to leave a message, make it brief. I try to keep mine under a minute. If the person will know who I am, I sometimes don’t leave anything. If its longer then a minute, email it.
- Driving and texting – I’ve done this, and so has everyone else. Now however you can get ticketed (at least in Ontario). It is unsafe and also distracting. Not only are you not focused on the road, but you are also not focused on what you are writing. I have stopped texting by putting the phone away in a place I can’t reach it. If it’s truly important however, pull over to the side of the road. It’s a lot safer and you aren’t risking yours or anyone elses life.
- Lights out, phone off – Something very recent I have adopted, mainly right after reading an article about this. Turning off my cell phone or at least its cellular connection when going to sleep. This way I get to sleep and my alarm still goes off in the morning. I have had interrupted nights before and it is not pleasant.
These phone etiquette’s are a combination of what I have read and learned, as well as things I personally feel others and I myself, should follow. No one is perfect. And in a world where business runs 24/7 it is hard to “get it right”. Everything depends on your personal situation. You decide what you can and shouldn’t do. Keep in mind that as technology advances and so does the worlds demand for the users to be connected, we are still only human.