The month of July is known for its most iconic American holiday—the 4th of July—otherwise known as Independence Day. We feel it’s only fitting that this is the same timeframe where we also celebrate Cell Phone Courtesy Month. Here at the Protocol School of Washington, we would like to help you declare your own independence from the bad habits often associated with cell phones. By using good manners and etiquette, you can become a true patriot of protocol as you communicate on your mobile devices this and every month.
The top cell phone courtesy reminders (in no particular order of importance):
Table the Conversation: Whether you’re dining with a boss, colleague or a family member, we always advise everyone to leave the cell phone off the table. Dining should be a pleasant, communal experience and nothing can ruin it more than someone checking their phone or sending out a text. It shows a very real lack of respect for your dining partner and makes you appear anything less than “present” with the person right in front of you. So, ladies and gents, leave the phone in a purse, messenger bag or even on the floor out of sight. The one exception? If you are awaiting an emergency call, apologize in advance to your dining partner that you may be forced to take a call.
Workplace texting: How many times have you been in a meeting and noticed your coworkers texting while you make your big presentation? Probably a lot. Texting during a meeting shows a total lack of respect for your coworkers and it makes you seem aloof and disengaged from the business at hand. So, do everyone a favor and wait to send that text until the meeting has been adjourned.
Private lives: Even if you feel you are worthy of your own Netflix special, the majority of strangers around you don’t care about the minute details of your everyday life. We’re talking about the loud public speakers who use their phone in a grocery store, a waiting room, public transportation or anywhere there is a shared environment to overshare what they had for lunch, what funny thing their child said, or how they still can’t believe that “you know who” died in Avengers: Endgame. Do everyone a favor and keep calls made in public as private—and as low volume—as possible.
KISS: When it comes to texting, this kiss stands for “Keep It Short & Sweet.” By its very nature, texting was intended to be a fast and succinct messaging system to be used in place of a phone call. However, many people think texting is where the next great novel might be written, resulting in long, hard to read and boring messaging. And while we’re discussing the beauty of brevity, try to stay brief when it comes to voicemail, too. Your friends and family will thank you!
Distracted driving: It may seem obvious, but many people still feel they can slip in a quick text while they are driving. Not only is this dangerous but, it’s also against the law in many states. Distracted driving, which includes texting as well as making voice calls, are partly responsible for at least nine deaths and 100 injuries on a daily basis in the U.S. alone. So be courteous and smart when you are on the road and keep your hands on the wheel and off your cell phone.
Scene stealers: How many times have you been in a church, movie theatre or stage show and had the entire performance upstaged by someone’s cell phone ringtone of the latest Nicki Minaj song? We hope not many. By all means, turn your phone off while attending any live performance or theatre or when visiting a church or temple. Also, keeping your mobile on mute is not good enough, because a bright screen can absolutely ruin a darkened movie or live stage show.
Other cell phone etiquette to consider: never scroll through photos or texts on someone else’s phone; be aware of what time of day you are making a professional business call or text (generally, nothing after 9 p.m.); and always watch your language—and refrain from off color humor—when making a call in a public setting. You never know who might be listening!