Ever notice how many people walking down busy city streets are on their cell phones? Everywhere we go, from banks to airports, elevators to shopping malls, conference rooms to restaurants, cell phone addicts are blurting out steady streams of shocking and confidential revelations. Who needs to know the personal and (and sometimes creepy) things we’re now forced to overhear?
In the United States alone, over 303 million people used cell phones as of December 2010, compared with approximately 4.3 million in 1990, according to the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association. As I write this article seated in a caf?, 28 of the 40 customers are on their cell phones — and I received 3 calls.
I know, I know. Being a busy financial advisor, you need to be on your phone, well, pretty much always. Not to worry. Here are some tips and friendly reminders to help you mind your manners the next time you’re making or taking that cell phone call in public.
1. You don’t have to take every call.
I’ve been accused of never (or rarely) answering my cell phone. There’s some truth to this. OK, a lot of truth to this. I’ll rarely stop a face-to-face conversation to answer my cell. And yes, I screen my calls — don’t judge me, you do it too! I feel if I miss a call or don’t pick up; it’s no big deal (I’m sorry if it was you). Besides, isn’t that what voicemail is for? Emergencies are always the exception, especially if the call is coming from an unlikely source or at an unusual time.
2. Don’t answer during one-on-one (or small) meetings.
These include business meetings in an office, conference room, over a meal, or over a venti – whatever. Answering your phone in the middle of a meeting is rude. It means the person on the phone is more important than the one you’re looking at. If you’re expecting an important call – client, prospect, boss, pregnant wife – let the person you’re meeting with know ahead of time while putting your cell phone on vibrate (sometimes called manner mode). Guaranteed those you meet will appreciate it. Also, watch as they follow your lead.