The Debrett's Guide to Mobile Phone Etiquette

The Telegraph has published a 10-point guide to cell phone manners from Debrett's, the traditional authority on British aristocracy and social manners. The kinds of things you'd expect, like:

8. Step away from the phone at meal times

Don't put your phone on the dining table, or glance at it longingly mid-conversation.

9. Don't carry on mobile phone calls when in the middle of something else

Don't carry on mobile phone calls while transacting other business - in banks, shops, on buses and so on. It is insulting not to give people who are serving you your full attention.

Most of it is intuitive, meaning the people who will read it don't need to be told how to take calls or not in various situations. And as commenters at Metafilter quickly pointed out, the list is only about phone calls, which is inadequate in an age when young people use smart phones for much more, like texting, watching TV, web browsing, music, and social networking. If we were going to construct a comprehensive list of rules for using smartphones, what rules would you suggest? Link

(Image credit: Flickr user TheeErin)


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One of the best things about having a "dumb phone" (it doesn't do texts) is that it weeds out a lot of frivolous communication. ["Hey gurl. watz up?" "Hi. Shall I give you a call so we can actually converse?" "LOL No. Jus wntd to say hey." "Well, bye." "CYA"]
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I had to take a refresher shop class a couple years ago as a prereq to using a shop at my work place, and the teacher was your stereotypical shop teacher: missing a finger, there to scare you if the machines don't, highly critical, "You screw around too much." He would kick people out if their phone rang. I forgot to turn mine off one day and it rang, but I had the ringtone set to sound like an a mechanical bell on an older phone. It just made him laugh, "That sounds like an actual phone," and he went on without kicking me out. Your mileage may vary though.

One annoying thing about phone etiquette though, is for those that spend a lot of effort trying to be polite, the one time you screw up or have a good reason for breaking rules gets you branded as if you constantly do such things. When talking to people, I usually hit the button to send calls to voicemail, as 99% of the calls I get I can call back 5 minutes later, and usually the face-to-face conversation is a lot more important. But the one time I was waiting for an important call, someone started up some small talk while I was waiting only to get interrupted. He tried to chew me out, except I was waiting on a call to hear how my father did in surgery, and we were literally talking about the weather. Sometimes the phone call is actually more important.
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