Cellphone Manners

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We've had over 100 years to refine our phone manners, since Alexander Graham Bell filed the patent in 1876. People still display some rude behavior when the land line rings.

The Cell Phone has only been in use for the last 33 years. Our cell phone manners are still abysmal. You'd think we would have built on our regular phone manners. perhaps we did.

The people you are are standing next to are more important than the person who is calling. Whether your at lunch with a co-worker, on a date, or at the Boss' Christmas party, you have made a commitment to be with someone for a period of time. Getting sucked into a phone conversation with someone who is NOT at the party is the equivelent of saying your host is boring, or not worthy of your time. Whether your a guest or the host, the message is the same when you choose to talk to someone who is not invited, or could not be bothered to attend the function.

Emergencies occur, if it's not an emergency, call them back later. If you are in a position where you need to answer the phone, set it to vibrate, check out who's calling, and don't answer unless you know its going to be important. For instance, the babysitter is not going to call unless there's a problem, but your best friend will call for any reason including being dumped or to tell you your team is losing. Answer the baby sitter, ignore your friend.

What if Caller ID is blocked? Well, that's tough. It's a choice the caller made. Tell them to turn off blocking, or you won't answer your cell phone. I'm not going to go fully into this debate here, but my summary is that if you don't want people to know your number you have no reason to call them. Businesses cannot cold call you if you're on the national No Call List, and if you're calling a business, you probably want them to call you back anyway. If you really want to be rude, and call your S.O.B. Ex-whatever about their status as a jerk, you can temporarilly turn on caller id blocking.

If you have to answer the phone, politely say "Excuse me", and step away from the table. Keep the call brief. Brief is 1-2 minutes. Start the call by saying "Hi, I'm at a important function, I can't talk, is this important?"

If the person on the other end says "No, its not important", say "OK, I'll call you back later" and end the conversation. If they say it IS important, then start telling you how the new paint color on the wall is just horrible, politely excuse yourself from the phone call by saying "I'm sorry, I have to go. Let me call you back later." A call is important if the person on the other end is in a situation that warrants your leaving whatever function you are at to go to their aid.

Finally, understand that there are sacred places. These include movie theaters, bathrooms, churches, meetings, and dining areas. If you're in one of these, just turn off your phone, and remember that we all did quite well all day long without cell phones 33 years ago. You can survive for two or three hours today.