Cell Phone Use Norms

I have been involved in a long conversation about the norms of modern communications. I talked about my broad view and have been discussing an in-depth view of cell phone norms with several colleagues of mine. We have come up with an extensive list of what is absolutely unacceptable, what is acceptable on occasion, and what can over-ride these things.

Of course the latest group of cell phone users may not apply here

The list is…..

No Answering (turn it off)
– At the Doctors Office
– Taking a Test
– While your Presenting/giving a speech/teaching
– During an Important business meeting
– at a funerals
– on a date

– in the bathroom  <- UPDATED

Excuse yourself then Answer (put it on silent)
– In a Class
– In the Movies
– During Regular business meeting
– At Church
– Driving a Car (pull over to excuse yourself)
– Eating at Restaurants
– At the Library

Over-rides above rules
– If the Boss calls(In certain situations)
– If it is a sick family/friend calling

What do you think? Have you found this to be different in your country/city? Have we missed something?

UPDATE 2/15/07: Tony Chung has an interesting list about what to do after you missed call, check it out


10 Responses to “Cell Phone Use Norms”

  1. David Spark Says:

    I actually interviewed the wireless phone etiquette lady for the Sprint Podcast (http://podcast.sprint.com/) that I host. This was to celebrate Wireless Phone Etiquette month. Yes, that’s serious. It was last year for the month of July I believe. We discussed many of the common rudeness issues, but I like how you put together a check list. If you’d like to listen to the podcast, you can check it out here: http://podcast.sprint.com/1/1/2006/06/26/Wireless-Phone-Etiquette.html?page=comments&smm=y

  2. Chris M Evans Says:

    Josh, I’d add:

    1. Always answer – friends and colleagues I trust.
    2. Maybe answer – vendors, people who show their phone number
    3. Never answer – recruitment agents, people who hide their phone number.

    Simple. Effective.

  3. joshmaher Says:

    Interesting Chris….but if I were in a good movie I wouldn’t answer the phone on my friends or colleagues :)

    Perhaps you should have a listen to David’s podcast above. The wireless phone etiquette lady is a little over the top for me though…”don’t have a LOUD conversation in public”?!?! that is a bit too much, I can have an in-person conversation that is loud in a park…why can’t I do the same thing over the phone?

  4. Tony Chung Says:

    Nice post Josh! I’m totally with ya on that list :)

  5. Bob Faulkenberry Says:

    Cell Phone Etiquette

    Owning a cellular phone is indeed a great help especially to those who are working, it could be a necessity for these people especially in keeping communication lines open especially in relation to the job. But, there must be a proper time when to use or when not to use the cellular phone.
    The things that are mentioned below are the reminders that must really be remembered by people at work. These are the so-called etiquettes in using the cellular phone in working places.
    * Turn your ringing tone to silent mode if you could not turn it off.
    It would be very disturbing if you are at work, then that cellular phone of yours rings like as if there is a big emergency. You know for a fact that you’re going to distract other employees. See to it that you do not disturb others while they are working.
    * Cellular phones for important calls only

    You have to classify whether or not a call is important or not. What is important? Important calls are those that require urgent response. These calls may include emergency situations such as involving the family or other necessary people.

    * Voice Mail while you cannot answer

    There is this voice mail feature that you could surely enjoy when you could not receive a call. We know that of course, as a part of your social life, you have to keep in touch with other people. It has to be understood that you are in your workplace and your total attention must be rendered for your job, you could use Voice Mail and respond to the calls later.

    Find a Private Place to Make Cell Phone Calls

    At break time, you could make or receive phone calls but see to it that you go somewhere and not stay on your desk. Though it is break time some of your co-employees are still doing some of their work, you might just distract them, it would be best for you to be in a private place to answer the calls.

    The rest room is not the right place

    It would not be courteous to use your cell phone in the restroom. You might intimidate other people using the bathroom. It would also not be fine for the other person on the other line to hear some flushing sounds.

    Leave your cell phone for meetings

    Though you set your phone to a silent mode and vibrating alert on, it would really arouse your curiosity to check if who calls you. It would be rude for your co-employees especially for your superior. It would surely leave a bad impression.

    When you follow these reminders you would be saved from the wrong impressions you could leave and you would really be “professional” at work.

  6. Blackberry Norms and Etiquette « Messaging….. Technology…… Life….. Says:

    […] Blackberry Norms and Etiquette Filed under: Messaging — joshmaher @ 3:00 pm This ties into the cell phone use norms post…. […]

  7. Jennifer Hill Says:

    Cells phone use in a public restroom is extremely rude. When I use the restroom I’d like to do it without having sounds my personal sounds transmitted by any type of device, and so would any thinking person. I have got a right.

    Just now I’ve encountered an even deeper horror: a woman who was in the restroom when I arrived seemed quiet while I was there, but then she produced an awful stench that filled the place suddenly. She popped out of her stall a second after I did and I saw she was on her cell phone (hadn’t said anything previously into it or I’d have heard). She washed her hands in a big hurry and beat me to the single paper towel dispenser where she then stood languidly chatting while obviously in my way. Finally she got out of the way of the paper dispenser only to stand directly in the front of the door out. My plans to evacuate the stinky room and catch a breath of air were put on hold too long! Now I don’t feel up to eating my lunch and obviously I’m not doing my work at the office, I’m venting instead. I’d recommend good cell phone manners for the good of any company.

  8. Buy Calling Card Online Says:

    wow congrats to the author of this. this is a wonderful and beautifully written post. i love the way you explain things. ill keep reading the other posts as well.

  9. Spy Girl Says:

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