Cellphone Manners

Many people seem to take that sound as call to turn from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde, in terms of manners. So let’s go through a few basics of polite cell phone use.

Adam Lowe
3-minute read
Episode #32

Many listeners have written in with questions about mobile phone etiquette. We may not be able to cover everything in one episode, so please feel free to send in more questions for a follow up show.

If you’re at a restaurant or dining at home with friends, turn off your ringer and don’t answer or make calls. If there is an urgent situation and you must place a call, excuse yourself from the table and either go outside or to a discreet area outside the restrooms. The inside of a restroom is not a good place for phone conversations.

If there is an emergency situation, or you must immediately talk with someone to coordinate the logistics for the rest of the evening, then ask permission or inform your dining companions that you may have to take a call, and let them know the reason. This should only be for time-critical and important calls. Speak as briefly and as quietly as possible, excuse yourself from the table if the call is going to be longer than a few sentences, and then turn your phone off after the conversation. Restaurants, and dinner tables in general, are for enjoying your meal and the company of those dining with you; they are not public phone booths.

If you are out on the street by yourself, you should feel comfortable talking on the phone, but try to keep your voice down and be mindful of where you are walking. If you are out walking with a friend, it is probably acceptable to answer the phone, but excuse yourself and keep your call as brief as possible. Don’t be shy about telling the caller you are with someone, and that you don’t want to stay on the phone and be rude.