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Cellphone Etiquette for any Occasion

Updated on August 8, 2012

You've seen it. Maybe you've done it. Maybe you've seen it done to you. You're at dinner, enjoying a nice meal and a nice conversation. You're telling this enthralling story. Then you notice your friend pull out his or her cell phone (or just tilt his or her head down like it's nap time) and reply to a text, or send a tweet, or see what's on his or her Facebook news feed. These situations are not limited to dinner.

Is there such a thing as Cellphone etiquette?

What should you do if your friend pulls out his or her cellphone? What if you're dying to see what Sam wrote on Charlie's wall in response to what Charlie wrote on Sam's wall because Sam tagged Charlie in a photo in an album?

Your friend pulls out the cellphone during conversation:

1. You can continue talking like you don't see it. A good option, but chances are your friend is not going to hear anything you say.

2. You can stop talking. Abruptly. Then you wait for your friend to notice you aren't talking and you hope that he or she asks you to continue what you were saying. Unfortunately, the conversation may simply die at this point.

3. You can slap the phone out of your friend's hand. If people did this, it would cut back on the problem a lot.

You're having a conversation and you just felt your phone vibrate:

1. Ignore it. The text or email or voicemail will be there when the conversation is over.

2. Grab it. Then you will begin to tune out whatever your friend is saying and your friend can choose one of the options above in response.

3. Excuse it. "Oh, this is probably my wife." "This is a text/call/email I've been waiting on. Hang on a sec." At least this way, you're addressing the situation.

I have to add one more section. These are more general, but still necessary.

1. Don't talk about status updates as if that person told you directly. They didn't tell anybody. You read it so say that. It gets really confusing otherwise. And everyone else already read the status update.

2. The ratio of personal interaction versus cellphone interaction should be comparative to your environment. (I enjoyed writing that sentence.) If you're with people, the personal interaction goes up, and the cellphone interaction drops (significantly). Save the cellphone time for when you're not with people.

I'm guilty of not keeping a good balance. I'm working on it. It's been said before, technology is becoming more and more a part of our daily lives, schedules, and activities. Cellphones are very helpful because they can increase productivity and communication. They don't replace relationships though.

Do you have rules you go by? How do you respond in these situations? What's the most annoying situation to you?


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