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8 Tips for Smart Phone Etiquette 

8 Tips for Smart Phone Etiquette 

Written By: Joanie Ogg, CTC, MCC  



The convenience of our smart phones has made it possible to talk, text, view social media and email one another at any time and from just about anywhere. I personally have a love/hate relationship with my smart phone and often want to just toss it as far as I can throw it. I don’t dare though as I know my phone insurance likely does not cover my temper tantrums.  


Using them can often be so inappropriate and yes irritating to those around us. As a reminder to myself on being a better smart phone user, I thought an article about phone etiquette would be good for me and hopefully you too will find it useful. Most of these are tips as they relate to business calls and how best to manage smart phone protocol. The personal side of smart phone usage is a whole different bag of tricks! 


1. State your full name when you answer a call.

It is easy to forget to do this especially when we are in the car and the blue tooth ring interrupts our music with that sound that never fails to shock us into full attention. Since we might not be sure who is calling we need to be sure to use a polite greeting and say our full name.  Once we get in the habit of doing this, it almost becomes second nature. 


2. Let the caller know you are driving or if they are on speaker phone.

If you must answer a call while you are driving be sure to let them know that you are driving! Then let them know you have them on speaker. They may decide they would prefer to speak with you later for one reason or another. One being they may just want you to concentrate on them not on your driving and two they may wonder if you are alone in the car and not wish to speak to a group of people about their topic of discussion. I often have to answer the phone in the car while driving with my Grand Daughter in the car and while I prefer not to talk on the phone while driving at all, if I must I want the caller to know she is there too. One never knows what a 4-year old might have to say or perhaps she will just want to say hi! Always give the business caller the option to return the call later if it feels appropriate. 


3. Lower your voice

I think it is just human nature to think that we do not speak too loudly or have a loud voice. We want to speak clearly and succinctly on a phone be it a cell phone or landline. I just think we have no clue how loud we may sound. I often have to make the hand signal to my husband when he speaks on his cell phone to lower his voice.  We just naturally seem to raise our voice for some reason especially when our attention is focused on the caller.  


A good rule of thumb is if the people sitting near you are glaring at you or making hand signals to lower your voice, you probably need to lower your voice. Another important thing to consider is who is listening in on your conversation. This is very important to be aware of especially if you are in a public setting. 


4. Where NOT to put your phone when meeting others.

Just last night I was reminded of this smart phone etiquette issue. Tom and I were out to dinner at a lovely restaurant and I sat my phone on the table not really thinking about the placement. I did not expect a call or really need to have it sitting in front of me for any particular reason. I think it is just habit for me and one I am going to try to break.  


What brought it to my attention was a table opposite us of four gentlemen who were obviously in a business discussion. Voyeur that I am, I noted that 2 of the 4 had their phones right next to their plates and they kept glancing at them while the other’s were speaking. It was really notably rude to not be giving their full attention to one another. I looked down and saw my phone and stuck in my purse till I needed it to calculate the tip for our server. 


5. When NOT to answer your phone when meeting with others.

Following on the heels of Tip Number 4 is the correct protocol about actually answering a call while meeting with others.  When we take our attention away from those we are meeting with or enjoying a meal with, we are basically saying to them that they are not important enough to have our full attention if we allow the ringing or vibrating phone to distract us.  


There are times when perhaps we are expecting an important call and simply cannot reschedule it. In that case, be sure to tell those you are with that you really are sorry but you may have to take a quick call that you were unable to reschedule. If this happens, excuse yourself from the meeting to take the call privately and don’t speak loudly. 


6. Picking your ringtone says a great deal.

If you are using your phone for business and may have it with you when you are in a public setting with colleagues, be sure your ring is simple and not too loud. While you might enjoy a dog barking ring or a favorite song as your ring, it might not seem too professional in a business situation.  


7. When NOT to use your smartphone.

There are a good number of places where it is clearly not appropriate to be talking, texting, emailing, or browsing. As a speaker, I cannot begin to tell you how disruptive it is for either a phone to ring or a text to ping while being a presenter. I am used to it and over time one learns to rise above it and try not to show any emotion, but it is hard to stay on point when it happens. Often you will hear a speaker ask the audience in the beginning of a presentation to be sure everyone has their cell phones off or have them on vibrate. If you’re in the middle of a meeting or a conference, it’s rude to have your phone go off and disrupt the speaker and everyone in the audience. The easiest fix is turning on the vibrate button on your cellphone. If you must text during a session, be cognizant of the people around you.  


8. Silence is Golden

One last tip is to utilize the silent feature or switch on your smart phone. This will allow for much more productive interactions and avoids unnecessary interruptions. Messaging apps and e-mail are sent to audible alerts automatically and they also use a great deal of the device’s battery power when they wake the machine from sleep mode. Find out how to you use the silence feature on your device and avoid unnecessary and annoying alerts. 

Smart phones are not going away anytime soon. I hate to admit between my Apple Watch and my IPhone, I am a junkie. However, I am trying to alter the way I use it around others and to be more respectful of their attention. Hopefully we can all find a way to balance the amazing efficiency it brings to our lives without letting them rule our lives. I for one am going to make a concerted effort to be a kinder and more respectful user.