In my last blog, I introduced the first four tenets of cell phone etiquette: don’t take every call; don’t answer during one-on-one meetings; never answer in a group meeting; and be considerate in public spaces. Now, let’s move on to other specific circumstances.
As you read this, take comfort in knowing that we’ve all offended others when talking on our cell phones. Talking in an inappropriate place or in an inappropriate way is not a criminal offense. However, these are habits that you can and should overcome in order to be the best client, colleague and friend you can be.
1. Know which calls are urgent, and which ones can wait.
Personally, I’m uncomfortable walking down the street, paying for groceries or getting my change from the drive-through window when speaking on the phone. It just seems rude. Of course, there are exceptions: calling to say you’ll be late, asking for directions, talking someone through brain surgery, helping someone to land a plane, closing a million dollar deal or trying to make the trade deadline if you’re a GM of a professional sports team. Otherwise, is the call necessary? Yes, occasionally we’re on the phone for social reasons. While on the phone, how can we concentrate on crossing the street or being courteous to those we speak to “live and in person” all day every day? The answer — we can’t.
2. Be cautious when talking while driving.
Speaking on the phone from the car (headset on) is a great use of time — multi-tasking, baby. Of course, it’s best if there are no passengers on-board, unless you’re getting directions. Also, it’s important to remember that this is not the safest way to travel (you’re four times as likely to get into an accident, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). So, be courteous, keep the conversation light and not overly involved and pay attention to the road.