Improve Your Public Cell Phone Courtesy

Proper manners with mobile technology.

By on July 17, 2013

A recent LifeHacker survey asked readers to share the most annoying habits they observe when people are on their cell phones. The responses shared a common thread - distraction.

Topping the list are people talking on their phones while driving, burying themselves in text messaging and generally being addicted to their devices in social settings.

Angelyn Davis, president of Etiquette, Et Cetera and etiquette instructor of the St. Paul Hotel Business Etiquette class in Minnesota, shares four simple ideas to put into practice, especially during July, which is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month:

  • Turn it off. Turn off your phone or switch it to silent mode anywhere it is a distraction or would cause a disruption.
  • Place it face down. If your cell phone must be left on in a public place, after you’ve set the ringer to the silent or vibrate mode, place the phone face down to minimize audio and visual disturbance to others.
  • Give a heads up. In emergency situations, inform the group and ask up front for permission to have your cell phone readily available so you may attend to any related calls, texts or emails. When appropriate, excuse yourself and respond from a private area.
  • Be considerate. Respect people’s privacy and personal space by keeping your voice low and conversations brief. Use reasonable volume levels while watching videos or playing games. And, when possible, maintain a distance of at least 10 feet from the nearest person.

If you need a little extra help, apps can also silence your phone when you forget. For example, AutoSilent will automatically turn your phone to silent mode through GPS tracking when you enter one of your designated silent locations. Alternatively, Silent Time syncs to your weekly schedule, automatically switching your phone to silent mode when you go to a meeting, class or appointment.

Tap into more courtesy tips throughout National Cell Phone Courtesy Month and year-round with The Etiquette App.