Did you know that July is National Cell Phone Month? It was founded as a means to market cell phone etiquette, not as a way to promote the sale of mobile phones. Selling those little hand-held communication devices does not seem to be a problem. They are more common than the house fly and spreading like the plague. It’s the proper and polite way to use them that is the issue. In fact, whenever I write the words “cell phone etiquette”, it occurs to me that the term is something of an oxymoron. Cell phones and good manners do not seem to go hand in hand.
When the portable handset was invented by Martin Cooper of Motorola in 1973, neither he nor his rival, Joel Engel, head of research at Bell Labs could have imagined that today, 37 years later, mobile phones would dominate the world. It is estimated that 4,239,956 people around the globe are having a cell phone conversation at any given second. Most people today do not seem to go anywhere without carrying their phones. Nowhere are they more important than in the shrinking global business world where more and more people are ‘on message’ 24-7.
Cell phones are a blessing to business people on the move, but when they are not used appropriately, they can be annoying and disruptive. Good etiquette is important in terms of what you should and shouldn’t do when using cell phones in the workplace. Rude or improper use of a cell phone can cost you considerably in the business world.
Cell phones have become a serious issue in business meetings. Consider these rules of cell phone etiquette during meetings:
1. If you are in a meeting, make sure your phone is turned off or put on silent ringer. Putting it on vibrate can be just as annoying or offensive to those around you as hearing your phone ring.
2. Don’t answer your phone, make calls, text or respond to texts during a meeting.
3. Ask yourself if you really need to take your phone into the meeting. I know for many of you that is an unconscionable thought. It’s much like asking yourself if you need to wear your clothes to the meeting.
4. Don’t put your phone on the table during a meeting. It sends a message that you are not fully present or engaged. Doing so could cost you the client or the business.
5. Use the voice mail feature on your phone just as you do your out of office reply for your e-mail. Let people know that you are in a meeting and unable to take their call; but don’t forget to let them know when they can expect to hear back from you.
6. If you have to take a call during a meeting, be courteous and explain to the other attendees that you need to be available for a call and ask their permission to leave your phone on.
7. When the all important call comes, excuse yourself from the meeting to answer it and converse.
8. Watch the clock while you are on the call and away from the meeting. It would be rude to stay out of the room for a lengthy period of time.
9. The business lunch or dinner is the same as the business meeting so all of the above rules of cell phone etiquette apply.
Your cell phone should be used to connect with clients, not disconnect.
Here’s to cell phone courtesy!
Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.
Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions. Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.
Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.