January 13, 2014
More than ever, etiquette matters when using your cell phone
By Mark Elliott
Last week, I was reading Yahoo News technology and culture columnist Rob Walker’s “What Annoying Tech Behaviors Should Be Outlawed?”
It reminded me of the days when Sprint partnered with etiquette expert Jacquline Whitmore. Most people don’t realize there’s a National Cell Phone Courtesy Month. It’s actually July, but we can always use a refresher on etiquette and protocol, wireless phone users can take these steps to avoid offending others.
Below are 13 tips Sprint shared back in 2010 that hold true today.
- Be all there. When you’re in a meeting, performance, courtroom or other busy area, let calls go to voicemail to avoid a disruption. In some instances, turning your phone off may be the best solution.
- Keep it private. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid discussing private or confidential information in public. You never know who may be in hearing range.
- Keep your cool. Don’t display anger during a public call. Conversations that are likely to be emotional should be held where they will not embarrass or intrude on others.
- Learn to vibe. Use your wireless phone's silent or vibration settings in public places such as business meetings, religious services, schools, restaurants, theaters or sporting events so that you do not disrupt your surroundings.
- Avoid ‘cell yell?’ Remember to use your regular conversational tone when speaking on your wireless phone. People tend to speak more loudly than normal and often don't recognize how distracting they can be to others.
- Follow the rules. Some places, such as hospitals or airplanes, restrict or prohibit the use of mobile phones, so adhere to posted signs and instructions. Some jurisdictions may also restrict mobile phone use in public places.
- Excuse yourself. If you are expecting a call that can’t be postponed, alert your companions ahead of time and excuse yourself when the call comes in; the people you are with should take precedence over calls you want to make or receive.
- Send a message. Use Text Messaging to send and receive messages without saying a single word.
- Watch and listen discreetly. New multimedia applications such as streaming video and music are great ways to stay informed and access the latest entertainment. However, adjust the volume based on your surroundings in much the same way that you would adjust your ringer volume. Earphones are a great way to avoid distracting others in public areas.
- Alert silently. When using your phone’s walkie-talkie feature, send the person you're trying to reach a Call Alert before starting to speak. If you're around other people, turn off your phone's external speaker and use the vibration setting to minimize any disturbance and to respect your contact's privacy.
- Be a good Samaritan. Use your cell phone to help others. According to CTIA, The Wireless Association, more than 224,000 calls a day are made to 911 and other emergency numbers by mobile phone users who report crimes and potentially life-threatening emergencies.
- Focus on driving. Practice wireless responsibility while driving. Don’t make or answer calls while in heavy traffic or in hazardous driving conditions. Place calls when your vehicle is not moving, and use a hands-free device to help focus attention on safety. Always make safety your most important call.
Mark Elliott is a communications manager for the Wireless Devices team at Sprint. Based in Boston, he works primarily with BlackBerry and Samsung devices and is well versed in the company’s business devices, push-to-talk products and tablets. Mark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.