Why is cell phone etiquette so important in today’s society? Last fall I attended an event for the re-opening of the Cleveland Playhouse. Tours were provided to showcase the beautiful improvements to create a more intimate venue for enjoying a production.During the presentation, a loud cell phone rang. It rang and rang and rang until the inconsiderate individual finally answered it. He then proceeded to have a conversation that all 20 of us were forced to listen to. This individual wasn’t the least bit embarrassed that he had made such a large faux pas. Then another cell phone rang and this woman behaved the same way. It was outrageous!
Cell phones are important when it comes to communicating; however, there is protocol to a cell phone. Your phone should always be on the silent or vibe mode when you are in a building or at a gathering of any kind. Your cell phone, realistically, should be on vibe about 75 percent of the time. No one needs to hear your phone ringing at a restaurant, a movie, a wedding, a funeral or any place where people gather. No one considers you to be important or special because someone is calling you. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. People who allow their cell phones to ring and interrupt conversations or presentations are in serious violation of social protocol.
When you receive a cell phone call in public, you excuse yourself, walk at least 10 feet away, and quietly conduct your business, then return. You do not talk in front of anyone that is not included in the conversation. It’s rude!
Do not put a cell phone on a table in a restaurant or in a boardroom. When you put a cell phone on a table, it is an indication that the person or people across from you are not a priority. You would never put your cell phone on your boss’ desk for a meeting. It would be disrespectful. You need to extend that same respect for the person or people across from you.
If you have a sick child or elderly parent, you may keep a cell phone close but not in sight of the person with whom you are speaking. People have raised children and tended to elderly parents for centuries without cell phones. No one wants to hear your conversation with your 12-year-old or your mother.
If by chance your cell phone goes off in public and interrupts an event or meeting, apologize to those around you. Clarify that is was a legitimate accident and not a purposeful interruption. Applying protocol to our everyday lives says a lot about how we respect those around us and ourselves.
Colleen Harding is a certified etiquette and protocol instructor and the founder of the Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol. Programs and packages available for children and businesses.