Stupid people should not have Smart Phones.  They have become a source of social irritation and are getting on people’s nerves.  Like that person at Walgreens using the speaker-phone-function to fight with her boyfriend about last night’s sex in front of your children.  The person seated at the conference table during budget meetings whose obtrusive ring-tone blasts suddenly from their pocket, causing them to sheepishly whisper, “I have to take this one.”

No, you don’t.  What you might consider is working on your cell phone etiquette.

Jacqueline Whitmore is a nationally recognized expert on etiquette and protocol.  Twelve years ago she founded National Cell Phone Courtesy Month (July) with the intent of contributing to a more civil society.  Whitmore has compiled and published the following list of suggestions of proper etiquette with a cell or smart phone.

“Be in the now. Don’t try to multi-task and check email while you’re in a meeting or having a conversation with someone. Anytime you’re expected to participate or simply listen to someone else, silence your phone. Incessant phone checking breaks your concentration and makes it difficult to get back on track. There’s no need to look at your phone every time someone sends you a tweet or comments on a Facebook post. Almost every app on your phone can be tweaked so that push notifications are disabled. The best way to avoid distractions is to turn your phone off, put it on airplane mode, or put it away completely.”

KTRH News asked Whitmore when it’s appropriate to bring someone’s poor judgment in their use of a cell/smart phone to their attention?

“It depends.  If the person’s behavior is affecting you in some way, it might be worth saying something politely or diplomatically,” Whitmore tells KTRH News.  She tells of an instance in a gym when a woman entered talking loudly on her speaker-phone.  Whitmore says she didn’t feel in that circumstance that approaching the woman was appropriate, and chose instead to change her own location.  Whitmore said, however, there are times, such as when someone who is providing a service for which you are paying uses their phone inappropriately, when it is within your right as a paying customer to express your displeasure.

“Keep confidential information private. Be aware of your surroundings. If you need to speak to someone about a private matter, find an empty room or a quiet corner to have your conversation. You never know who might overhear part, or all, of your conversation.”

“Stay calm. When you’re in a public place and receive a phone call you know will be difficult or emotional, let it go to voicemail. If you give yourself some time to collect your thoughts you’re more apt to have a calm, rational conversation. Try to keep your cool while you speak to someone on your cell phone in front of others. Emotional outbursts will only embarrass you and intrude on others.”

“Set your phone to vibrate. Take advantage of your smartphone’s silent and vibration settings. Turn your phone’s ringer off and keep it out of sight when you attend an important business meeting, a religious service, visit your kids’ school, go out to eat, or enjoy a sporting event. If you put your phone on the table, it sends the signal that the potential caller is more important than those you are with.”

“Avoid “cell yell.” Always use your regular conversational voice when speaking to someone on your cell phone. Be mindful of your volume in airports and other busy places where people tend to speak more loudly than usual. The last person you want to attract is an eavesdropper.”

KTRH News asked Whitmore, Have we lost our general manners?

“I think we have.  Our society is becoming more casual, and when that happens people’s manners become more casual as well.  We don’t dress as well as we used to, we don’t go to formal dinner parties as much as our parents and grandparents did.  It does cause friction when people behave badly and don’t follow simple courtesies,” Whitmore says.

“Step away to take a call. If you’re at lunch or in a meeting, always let your dining companions know ahead of time if you have to take or make an important call. Excuse yourself and take the call away from the table. Do your best to prioritize the people you’re with over unexpected calls, emails and texts.”

“Be a responsible driver. If you’re in heavy traffic or hazardous driving conditions, don’t answer your phone. Wait until you come to a stop before you take the opportunity to make a call. Always use a hands-free device so you can focus on driving. Never text and drive. A quick text message is not worth risking your safety or the safety of those around you.”

“Get unplugged occasionally. If you have an important project you need to complete or you just want to spend quality time with friends and family, leave your phone in another room and try not to check it more than two or three times a day. Give yourself a smartphone break once in a while. Ultimately, you want to be in control of your phone and not the other way around.”

-  Jacqueline Whitmore, July 2014  -