A text sent at the dinner table to answer a coworker’s question. Arguing with someone over the phone in a crowded room. Though we often do not mean to bother those around us with our cell phone usage, the truth is that we all have bad habits we may not even recognize. These habits not only have the potential to annoy and frustrate others, but they also could put us in harm’s way.
In July of 2002, Jacqueline Whitmore founded National Cell Phone Courtesy month in hopes of educating people about how to use cell phones without annoying those around them. It may seem surprising that Americans have found it necessary to devote a month to what some may consider a “pet peeve” however, the support behind Cell Phone Courtesy month shows how important cell phone etiquette is to the general public. The message? People are bothered.
The Pew Research Center’s study The Best (and Worst) of Mobile Connectivity published in 2012 found that 74% of adults say that they witness the types of behavior we mention in this post ‘frequently’ or ‘occasionally.’ Yet only 6% of cell phone owners identified as having made others upset or uncomfortable by the way they have used their phone in public.
We are quick to recognize when those around us are being inconsiderate when using their cell phones, yet we have a hard time recognizing those same bad habits in our own lives. Imagine if your cell phone habits bothered your boss, your spouse, or your colleague, and you had no idea about it. Wouldn’t you want to fix that? And what if your cell phone habits were putting you and your loved ones in harm’s way? Fixing those habits could save your life.
Here are some common cell phone habits that could put you in danger or hurt your social life. Check to see if you are guilty of any. By correcting these habits, you can stay safe and make yourself stand out as someone who is polite and considerate of other people’s time.
Texting and Driving—It Can Wait
The most dangerous of all bad cell phone habits, is using your device while driving. Texting while driving is not only dangerous, it is against the law in Utah. According to Utah driving laws, anyone caught texting while driving can face a minimum of a $750 fine and three months in jail. For more information on Utah cell phone laws check out our past article “Utah’s New Cell Phone Law.” If you get an important call or text in the car, pull over to answer it, let it go to voicemail, or have your passenger answer it for you.
At Christensen and Hymas, your safety is our number one priority. So please, be a responsible driver and don’t drive distracted.
Tell me later
As a rule of thumb to keep those around you from becoming uncomfortable and to protect you from accidentally revealing sensitive information to a roomful of strangers, sensitive information can wait.
Never text about personal matters or request personal information from another person through text messages. Texts can be forwarded to other numbers whether on purpose or accidentally. Be courteous to others and protect yourself by only communicating sensitive information through private and secure channels of communication.
Respect their space
When you do have to answer a call in public, make sure you are at least 10 feet away from the closest person. Not possible? Then you should probably let it go to voicemail. Another option would be to text until you get to a less crowded area where you can talk. No one wants to find out that their conversation with their doctor was overheard by everyone in the room. Save yourself some embarrassment and everyone else some discomfort next time you get a call in public.
Let it be
Whether it’s in a business meeting or during a night out with friends, leave your phone alone. Put it away so that those around you know that they have your full and undivided attention. Even if you are just checking your phone to see what time it is you are sending a message to those around you that you are more interested in your screen than their conversation.
To fix this habit give yourself a limit. Decide beforehand that you will only let yourself check your phone every two hours, and then when it’s time, excuse yourself to the bathroom, hallway, or secluded area where you can check your messages.
People tend to speak three times louder on the phone than in face-to-face conversation. There are instances when speaking louder may be necessary, but as a general practice try to speak softly when on the phone to avoid disrupting others.
I’ve got to take this…
Answering a call or text when talking with someone else may be the most frequently broken rule of etiquette out there. Many people pay attention to this rule when meeting with a boss or a client, but when they are with friends this rule goes out the window. Just because you are with a friend does not mean you should make them wait while you make a call or send a text. If the message is really important, ask them if it is okay that you take the call, or explain to them why you need to send a text. If you are with a group of people, excuse yourself for a minute and go to another room to take the call.
Don’t adopt the mindset that it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Your friends and colleagues will appreciate it.
Photo 1 courtesy of Pixabay