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Dr. Shirley Says...

Cell Phone Etiquette:  Tips to Remember

“Ask yourself--are you a polite cell phone user or are you making those around you crazy with your oft ringing phone and loud, annoying conversations.” 
Cell phones are a technological privilege that most of us find useful in our daily activities. We can reach business associates, clients, family, friends and most anyone, anytime, anyplace. Yet, as the number of cell phone customers in the U.S. continues to grow--it's now at approximately 66 million--so does the annoyance at people who use their cell phones inappropriately and unsafely.

Marjabelle Young Stewart, author of The New Etiquette, says cell phone etiquette is really just common courtesy. So, ask yourself--are you a polite cell phone user or are you making those around you crazy with your oft ringing phone and loud, annoying conversations.

Some guidelines to remember: 

  • There are settings where it is inappropriate to use a cell phone: lectures, concerts, plays, movies, classrooms, church services and funerals as well as many other events where placing or receiving a call or even having the phone turned on would be considered rude. Use caller ID, voice mail, or if you must have the phone on, use a vibrating mechanism that comes with most cell phones today. If the call is an emergency, quietly leave the area and take care of the situation.
  • Consider safety--yours and that of others. While driving, it's best to use a “hands-free” setup. There are enough auto accidents that result from poor driving. So, let's avoid the ones that result from driving, dialing and concentrating more on the conversation than the roadway. In fact, be encouraged that you live in the United States and not in Singapore where a recently enacted law dictates that drivers caught conversing on a cell phone face not only stiff monetary penalties but prison time as well after the first offense.
  • During a recent illness and trip to the emergency room, the doctor asked my visitors not to use their cell phone. Seems the phones can interfere with various medical instrumentation. Just another tip to keep in mind.
  • Be aware of how close you are to others when using a cell phone in a public place. Move to a location, when necessary, that will be more private and less disruptive. Be sure to avoid extended calls in public places. 
  • Keep in mind that the people you are with usually take priority over a phone call. Having a conversation in their presence can be rude and make them feel unimportant. 
  • Avoid loud, animated conversations. Keep your voice low, at a conversational level. 
  • When making a call, let others know you are on a cell phone just in case you fade in and out or are disconnected. The person will then know to wait for clearness to return or that you will be calling back. 
  • Set your cell phone ringer for a low, basic ring; not a loud, annoying melody. To many, the mere fact that the phone is ringing is bad enough without the ring also playing a tune. 
  • When an establishment asks that customers refrain from using a cell phone, respect the rules and do so. More and more, restaurants and other public facilities across the country are posting signs asking customers to refrain from using cell phones while dining.
  • Finally, remember, cell phones no longer impress; so demonstrate good judgment when using yours.

As a responsible cell phone user, be aware of your environment before placing or receiving a call, and have respect for those around you. Others will certainly appreciate your good judgment and consideration.


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