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10 Ways to Honor National Cell Phone Courtesy Month

For this post, we talked with LisaMarie Luccioni, founder and president of The Image Establishment, an image/impression management firm. She also is a communications professor at the University of Cincinnati. You can find her on Twitter at @ImageProfessor.

The United States proudly celebrated its Independence Day this month, but the celebration rolls on with awareness that July is officially designated as National Cell Phone Courtesy Month. If you’re among the 44% of cell phone owners according to Pew Research statistics who sleep with the phone next to their bed so they don’t miss a thing (or if this is your spouse), maybe you want to take a closer look at ways to curb your cell phone enthusiasm.

LisaMarie shares the following tips to help you declare your freedom from poor cell phone manners:

  1. The person you're with takes priority over any incoming call. Attention should be exclusively focused on your current conversational partner. When you answer your phone/check messages, you automatically disconnect with the person right by you. It's as if you deliberately "hung up on them." If there's an incoming call or message that is urgent, you can inform your partner you may receive said call, set phone to vibrate and remove yourself from the situation to process the call if it arrives.
  2. If my partner continues to talk on the cell while I'm with them for a strategic reason (work completion task, for example), I'll catch their eye and say, "Why don't we talk when you're not so busy” or (braver still) “When you can give me your undivided attention? In the meantime, Karen, it was a pleasure seeing you and I anticipate hearing from you." Consider walking away. This is a cost-reward ratio, but I'm opting now more to leave when my time is wasted.
  3. No "Cell Yell"! Cell phone microphones are incredibly sensitive. No need to bark into them with loud volumes. This brings us to…
  4. People in public don't want to hear your conversation. We're not interested, nor intrigued. Sometimes we're even aghast. Years ago, I was waiting to board my plane at a crowded airport gate. One man, in the midst of many, relayed LOUDLY he'd just finished his job interview (actually named company), did well, and now simply had to conduct a psychological evaluation to ensure there were no "spooks running around in his head." I considered calling the company to describe the situation so they'd have a fuller portrait of what this man's behavior could be as a representative of their company.
  5. Turn off phones in public places, especially where people have paid hard-earned money to enjoy the event. We can still hear vibrations and see phone screen lights as you check messages. This acts as external noise or environmental stimuli to others around you. We can't focus on music, movies or events because we're distracted by your rudeness.
  6. If someone politely asks you to turn down your music, assume it's a legitimate request with favorable intention. You're probably unaware of noise leakage through earbuds, but seemingly your music is invading another person's space.
  7. It's recommended to talk at least 10 feet away from others on cell phones. Yes, sometimes this isn't possible, but other times it's easily doable. It's a double win - you take your call and those around you aren't forced to hear it.
  8. Let people know when you place them on speaker phone. I've been ambushed having what I think is a private conversation only to hear another's voice enter the conversation. Before the conversation begins, ask, "John, may I place you on speakerphone with Pam Webb, our director of human resources?"
  9. If the cell phone call drops, the general rule is whoever initiated the first call should reinitiate. Pew Research estimates that 72% of all cell owners experience dropped calls at least occasionally, so now we know proper form.
  10. Ensure your recorded voicemail messages reflect the tone you wish to convey. I've called people to hear Lady Gaga, Marvin Gaye and Rihanna sing a tune before the tone beeped. I'm not saying it's inherently wrong. I'm just saying you're communicating a message. Are you aware?

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