Face it: Your cellphone is your best friend. It’s always there with you, in your pockets or your hands, and you need it 24/7.
Although cellphones help you maintain your virtual social life, they can also cause you to seem inconsiderate in your physical reality.
Cellphone etiquettes vary from one culture to the other. As a newcomer in the U.S., you have to follow a new set of cellphone etiquettes so that you don’t come across as rude.
Keep reading this article to understand the general rules of etiquette to follow while using your phone.
Cellphone Use in Public
Your friends or colleagues may find it rude if you take a call during a social gathering. You can come across as disinterested. Don’t spend your time scrolling through social media or texting other people, either. Engage with your friends.
If you are in a business meeting, put your phone on silent and away from plain sight. According to Forbes, 84% of working professionals agree that using phones in meetings is highly unprofessional.
If you are watching something or listening to music in a public place, like a bus or a cafe, use earphones. If you do not have earphones, don’t play anything. No one is interested in listening to your movie or show. It can interrupt their conversations or work.
In such situations, you should also not answer your phone. Talking too loudly is considered rude. If you have to talk, use a hushed voice. You can also just text.
For your own personal safety, do not talk about personal topics. Do not mention your address, school or workplace when in public.
Know When to End the Call
You’re in Starbucks waiting in the line and talking to your friend. The line moves, and now you are in the front and have to order. What do you do? You should either put your phone down, or end the call.
If you are in a supermarket, or any other store, end your call before going to the checkout lane. Don’t try to handle a conversation with your friend and order something at the same time. It can cause confusion and waste everyone’s time.
You should not continue or start a conversation over the phone while driving, unless you have a hands-free system. It may be illegal in your state. If it’s a very urgent call, pull over. No conversation is worth the risk of an accident.
Emergency Calls and Prompt Responses
What if your phone keeps ringing and you’re worried it’s an emergency? There are exceptions to the abovementioned etiquettes. If it’s an emergency, excuse yourself with an apology and answer the phone. If the situation permits, step outside. If not, talk in a hushed tone.
If you are not sure it’s an emergency and still want to check on the situation, send a prompt text. Explain that you’re busy and will call them back later if it’s not urgent.
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Think Before You Post
Through our cellphones, we are often overwhelmed with content. There are so many texts to respond to, and so many tweets and posts that we can share.
Your words can be seen by people who don’t know you. So, unless you choose your words carefully, you can be easily misunderstood.
There are no nonverbal cues on our cellphones. You can offend people without intending to. According to a YouGov Omnibus survey, 57% of Americans regret a text or social media post they’ve sent. Re-read your content and ask yourself: “Am I sure I want to send that?”
Don’t post angry or hurtful content without considering the consequences.
Consider Your Ringtone
In places like the doctor’s offices, weddings, and funerals, your ringing phone could indicate a lack of respect. In other places too, your ringtone is important. Wherever possible, keep your phone on silent or vibrate.
While a loud ringtone can catch your attention fast, it can disturb those around you. Consider setting your ringtone to something like the sound of bells ringing, so that it does not attract much attention. You do not want your phone to ring in a sensitive social situation with the latest rap song.
Be Mindful of the Time
No one wants to receive your call after 9:00 P.M. unless it’s a close friend. After 9:00 P.M., people generally like to unwind, and are busy with their personal lives.
If it’s very urgent, try texting them beforehand. Ask if it’s a good time to call.
The United States has four time zones; more if you include Alaska and Hawaii. So, don’t just consider what time it is where you are. Before making the call, consider what time it might be at the location you are calling.
Should You Call or Text?
In the U.S., it is common to informally communicate with your friends with texts. You can connect with them on Instagram, Facebook, or just through SMS.
Engage in formal communication, regarding work or school, via phone calls. Conveying such information via text can make you look unprofessional. If your call goes unanswered, it is common to leave a voicemail. Speak slowly and clearly. Leave basic information like your name, number, and the time you called. Don’t go into too much detail regarding why you called. You can talk about that when the person calls you back.
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