Held Hostage by your phone? Learn some Phone Etiquette

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog about
email etiquette and the readership was wide. I also received a couple of private
messages thanking me for sharing what seemed obvious yet many continued to
abuse their emails.  I have since
realized the need to write another on phone etiquette and why, despite the
advancement in telephony, many of us continue to be blinded by these gadgets
and loose respect for those who offer their time to be with and around us.

I must admit that I am writing this from my
own previous experience(s) of disrespecting people around me as a result of
unnecessarily using my phone. I was so lucky to have a very bold friend who
once told me to either put my phone down while she talked to me else she threatened
to walk away. I first thought that she was being overly emotional but it all
made sense one day when she taught me what it meant to partially pay attention
to someone’s presence or conversation regardless of it’s level of importance.
The fact that the person chose to speak to you and not call you, meant that
they need your attention and some respect.
Have you ever been in the company of your
peers and you notice how they endless caress their phones and giggle or make
utterances such as “Oh my Gosh”, “Hell
” then giggle again? In an attempt to remain polite, you smile as if
you are aware of what caused their reaction.  This makes one wish that we never got to this
level where almost every urban dweller owns a ‘smart’ phone? I wonder why they
are called Smart phones? They seem to have made human being loose the sense of “social’
and respect. They seem to make us dumb and not smart at all.



We sit in the same room and find it
difficult to speak to each other yet it is so easy to send each other whatsup
messages, we find it impossible to verbally compliment someone for something
positive but have the guts to send a tweet praising this person and tagging
whoever cares to know. When we visit parents, friends and family, we are more
comfortable sharing the updates of these meetings using our phones on social
media platforms instead of enjoying those moments when we are physically with
them. Some of you take your disrespect to flights, you are told to switch off
your phones during take off  and taxing
yet all you do is start-taking selfies on board. Well, these are some of the basic, yet not
so obvious things you need to avoid when using your “Smart Phone”
in silent mode: 
When you find this sign “please
keep your phone in silent mode”
or  “switch off your phone”
please respect that. It’s for a reason.  In most cases, it’s for your own safety and
and Flash: 
Deactivate sound and flash from your ‪phone when taking pictures in crowded
places, hospital settings etc unless you are a professional photographer on assignment
such that removing the flash could compromise the quality of your work.
and Friends: 
with ‪family or friends, please talk to them, laugh, Joke, play etc. You
can only achieve this by putting your phone away and being part of the
conversation and the physical activities.
 : When
unable to pick your phone call, endvour to send a message indicating that u
will return the call. Alternatively, ask request the person to call you at a
time of your convenience. Ignoring a call or going silence is so yesterday.
with one person at a time: 
When speaking on phone, desist from speaking to other people around you. It’s
disrespectful & annoying to the person on the other side as they
receive different messages and could create confusion.
time calls: 
When you call someone for the very first time, be polite and introduce yourself
before you are asked who you are.  There
could be Apps that help you identify new callers such as “TrueCaller” but not
everyone has a smart phone to take advantage of these. It’s an issue of
your tone when speaking on phone, regardless of how you feel. Whether sad,
excited, angry etc. Tame your voice. ‪Someone on the receiving end can easily tell your
mood from your tone. Try to smile as your speak, the person on the other end
will feel it. Unless the reason for the call is sad, you loose nothing when
your smile.  You instead prolong your
life on earth.
Ear/Head phone:

Have some respect when talking to someone by removing your earphones from your
ears. It’s rude to speak with earphones on. This has
become a common trend with teenagers who consider it “Cool” to have
earphones plugged in your ears. Hope you take time to occasionally remove the

When playing music, video or games, do not interfere with those around you. Use
your ear/headphones when necessary. The assumption that people around
you will enjoy your music and therefore playing it loud is not an issue is
wrong. If they have not asked to join you in listening, then they definitely
don’t need it.
to people physically:

When speaking to someone, respect them by putting your phone away &
maintaining eye contact & other non-verbal communication.  This creates mutual respect and enables
meaningful conversations with the least destruction.

Web Photo
on Phone:

Whenever you can, do smile when speaking on phone, the other person can tell
from tone. It could be a game changer to the conversation. Just try and
see the magic.
Meetings: When meeting people for an
activity, partnership, or work plan, please put your phone away and LISTEN.
People do take note of so many things. The success of your meeting could depend
a lot on your phone etiquette.
Chats as cheap: The fact that we have
Apps that have made communication easy, convenient and CHEAP does not meat that
we should never make phone calls to people we care about and only opt for
whatsup, GTalk, Viber. Sometimes, people want to know that you can spend some
money on them by calling and talking to them and not relying on “FREE” services
to get in touch.
Unfamiliar phone numbers: When you
receive a call and it’s from an unfamiliar number, politely inform the caller
that it’s a wrong number and hang up. Do not abuse the call, threaten them or
pick the call and say nothing in a bid to make them spend money on airtime.
Checking other’s phones: Have you ever
given a friend, spouse, workmate or even your sibling your phone (For whatever
reason) only for you to discover that they opened it and checked your chats,
social media platforms including private messages in the inbox (es), SMSes, who
called, when, why etc? Now, that sucks so bad if it was done against your will
and without your knowledge. Well, it is bad manners if you are one of those
people who do that. STOP IT!!
Using phones on the Road: Where as there
are still so many points to share, my last and most important is to people who
continue to use smart phones while driving. You not only endanger yourself but
also those who get affected by your reckless actions on the road.  You get obstructed in all sorts of ways but
mostly Auditory destruction where by you move their attention to the sound of
phone/conversation instead of road environment.
  • Thank you Maureen for this article. Like you mentioned, these habits seem obvious and pretty small but they send out strong messages. Well put. Thank you again. I hope we all get to learn from the insights.

  • Thank you for reading and leaving a comment Victoria. It’s sad that people don’t even notice.

  • Very good points. Society definitely doesn't have a good handle on the social implications of globalizing tech. Mobile ethics will be a moving target, but we much nevertheless pursue it.