A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog about email etiquette and the readership was wide. I also received a couple of private messages thanking me for sharing what seemed obvious yet many continued to abuse their emails. I have since realized the need to write another on phone etiquette and why, despite the advancement in telephony, many of us continue to be blinded by these gadgets and loose respect for those who offer their time to be with and around us.
I must admit that I am writing this from my own previous experience(s) of disrespecting people around me as a result of unnecessarily using my phone. I was so lucky to have a very bold friend who once told me to either put my phone down while she talked to me else she threatened to walk away. I first thought that she was being overly emotional but it all made sense one day when she taught me what it meant to partially pay attention to someone’s presence or conversation regardless of it’s level of importance. The fact that the person chose to speak to you and not call you, meant that they need your attention and some respect.
Have you ever been in the company of your peers and you notice how they endless caress their phones and giggle or make utterances such as “Oh my Gosh”, “Hell noooo” then giggle again? In an attempt to remain polite, you smile as if you are aware of what caused their reaction. This makes one wish that we never got to this level where almost every urban dweller owns a ‘smart’ phone? I wonder why they are called Smart phones? They seem to have made human being loose the sense of “social’ and respect. They seem to make us dumb and not smart at all.
We sit in the same room and find it difficult to speak to each other yet it is so easy to send each other whatsup messages, we find it impossible to verbally compliment someone for something positive but have the guts to send a tweet praising this person and tagging whoever cares to know. When we visit parents, friends and family, we are more comfortable sharing the updates of these meetings using our phones on social media platforms instead of enjoying those moments when we are physically with them. Some of you take your disrespect to flights, you are told to switch off your phones during take off and taxing yet all you do is start-taking selfies on board. Well, these are some of the basic, yet not so obvious things you need to avoid when using your “Smart Phone”
Phone in silent mode: When you find this sign "please keep your phone in silent mode" or "switch off your phone" please respect that. It's for a reason. In most cases, it’s for your own safety and security.
Sound and Flash: Deactivate sound and flash from your phone when taking pictures in crowded places, hospital settings etc unless you are a professional photographer on assignment such that removing the flash could compromise the quality of your work.
Family and Friends: When with family or friends, please talk to them, laugh, Joke, play etc. You can only achieve this by putting your phone away and being part of the conversation and the physical activities.
Returning Calls : When unable to pick your phone call, endvour to send a message indicating that u will return the call. Alternatively, ask request the person to call you at a time of your convenience. Ignoring a call or going silence is so yesterday.
Speaking with one person at a time: When speaking on phone, desist from speaking to other people around you. It's disrespectful & annoying to the person on the other side as they receive different messages and could create confusion.
First time calls: When you call someone for the very first time, be polite and introduce yourself before you are asked who you are. There could be Apps that help you identify new callers such as “TrueCaller” but not everyone has a smart phone to take advantage of these. It’s an issue of politeness.
Tone Control: Control your tone when speaking on phone, regardless of how you feel. Whether sad, excited, angry etc. Tame your voice. Someone on the receiving end can easily tell your mood from your tone. Try to smile as your speak, the person on the other end will feel it. Unless the reason for the call is sad, you loose nothing when your smile. You instead prolong your life on earth.
Remove Ear/Head phone: Have some respect when talking to someone by removing your earphones from your ears. It's rude to speak with earphones on. This has become a common trend with teenagers who consider it “Cool” to have earphones plugged in your ears. Hope you take time to occasionally remove the wax.
Phone Music/Videos/Games: When playing music, video or games, do not interfere with those around you. Use your ear/headphones when necessary. The assumption that people around you will enjoy your music and therefore playing it loud is not an issue is wrong. If they have not asked to join you in listening, then they definitely don’t need it.
Smile on Phone: Whenever you can, do smile when speaking on phone, the other person can tell from tone. It could be a game changer to the conversation. Just try and see the magic.
Meetings: When meeting people for an activity, partnership, or work plan, please put your phone away and LISTEN. People do take note of so many things. The success of your meeting could depend a lot on your phone etiquette.
Chats as cheap: The fact that we have Apps that have made communication easy, convenient and CHEAP does not meat that we should never make phone calls to people we care about and only opt for whatsup, GTalk, Viber. Sometimes, people want to know that you can spend some money on them by calling and talking to them and not relying on “FREE” services to get in touch.
Unfamiliar phone numbers: When you receive a call and it’s from an unfamiliar number, politely inform the caller that it’s a wrong number and hang up. Do not abuse the call, threaten them or pick the call and say nothing in a bid to make them spend money on airtime.
Checking other’s phones: Have you ever given a friend, spouse, workmate or even your sibling your phone (For whatever reason) only for you to discover that they opened it and checked your chats, social media platforms including private messages in the inbox (es), SMSes, who called, when, why etc? Now, that sucks so bad if it was done against your will and without your knowledge. Well, it is bad manners if you are one of those people who do that. STOP IT!!
Using phones on the Road: Where as there are still so many points to share, my last and most important is to people who continue to use smart phones while driving. You not only endanger yourself but also those who get affected by your reckless actions on the road. You get obstructed in all sorts of ways but mostly Auditory destruction where by you move their attention to the sound of phone/conversation instead of road environment. Get the message “DON’T TALK OR TEXT WHEN DRIVING”.