Business and Career Killer: Dumb Use of a Smartphone

cellphone ettiquette

Here’s an interesting peek into our attitudes: A few years ago, a survey revealed that only 8 percent of cellphone users thought that their use had irritated other people. Yet in a rudeness study done by the Associated Press, 85 percent of those surveyed said they occasionally witness rude cellphone use.

In other words, we think that there’s a whole lot of rude cellphone users, but it’s just not me!

Can we be honest with each other and admit that there have been times when our cellphone use has been rude, distracting or inappropriate? We need to create some internal alarms and give ourselves the will power to control ourselves when they start to sound. With that said, let’s set some alarms.

Your cellphone is on the table. Have you been in a meeting, taken your cellphone out of your pocket or purse and set it face up so you could see who was texting or calling you? It’s standard operating procedure for many. Don’t do it. First, you’re probably suffering from a mild case of thinking-you’re-important-itis. If you’re in a meeting, be 100 percent the meeting. Every time you pick up your phone or glance at its screen you’re belittling the others who are participating

Your cellphone is peekable. Maybe even worse that having your phone on the table is tucking it away in a place where you can sneak peeks every so often. Come on! You know everyone sees those sly little glances. You aren’t fooling anyone. The rule is simple: Put it somewhere it won’t be a distraction.

You’re yelling. Fully 63 percent of all cellphone users yell (warning: statistic made up, but it seems about right) when talking on their phones. Find out if that is your predilection and get the cure. And even if you do talk in a normal voice, there are many times when you should step away from others so you don’t become a distraction…or annoyance.

Others are being noisy. Don’t call or try to carry on conversations when the ambient noise is a half decibel shy of a Pratt & Whitney jet engine. First, you and the party on the other end are likely to miscommunicate and second, you’ll have to yell so loud, others in your vicinity will be tempted to strangle you.

You’re moving. “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” is a classic Steve Martin and John Candy movie, but they aren’t such great places to be conducting business over your cellphone. Even when you’re using your inside voice, if there are others around – including business associates – you’re going to be an annoyance.

So far this has been a list of “DON’Ts.” However, there are a couple of things you should do to maintain good cellphone etiquette.

Return calls and messages promptly. Don’t let voice mail or a text messages languish on your device. Nothing says, “I don’t care” as much as letting a text message go for hours before responding.

Return a voice call with a voice call. People have their preferred styles of communicating. I know some kids who pretty much restrict all communications with their parents to text messages. However, there are many business professionals who prefer to hear your voice. Don’t relegate them to second-class citizenship by answering their voice mail message with a text message.

One final word of advice. These rules of etiquette apply even when you’re out at a sporting event or some other casual setting with business associates. In fact it might even be worse if you’re at a playoff game with people from a big account and you seem to be more interested in your smartphone than in the contest that is being played out on the field.

Game over!

Sponsored by AT&T

Image: By Wayne Wilkinson (Dunce Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.