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10 Cell Phone Etiquette Rules You Should Be Following—But Aren’t

Don't be caught committing cellular sins! Follow our expert phone etiquette rules to avoid being rude and annoying on your smart phone.


Put your phone away at the dinner table

This phone etiquette rule may seem obvious because, hello, it’s rude, but being courteous in public to both your dining partner and other diners is important, says Amy Rice, Gadget Expert for Gazelle. Parenting, etiquette, and financial expert Brett Graff adds, “If it rings, and you must answer it, explain to your dining companions that your child is home by him or herself or that you’re waiting for a huge business deal to close. Otherwise, ignore it,” she says. Follow these 13 little etiquette rules when dining at a restaurant.


End phone conversations when paying for purchases

Just because you may not know the cashier doesn’t mean you can keep chatting away while they’re helping you. Unless it’s an emergency, it’s just rude to stay on the phone right in their face. These are the most annoying coffee shop habits, according to Starbucks baristas.


Never shout when talking on the phone

Can you hear me now? If they can’t, maybe you should call them back later. When in public, it’s a good phone etiquette practice to try not to raise your voice while on the phone. No one else needs to be privy to your conversations—or your arguments, says Rice.


Never text or talk and drive

This is an obvious one. Many states have laws in place regarding texting and talking on the phone while driving. Hint: It’s a big no-no. These are the warning signs that you could be a cell phone addict.


Avoid texting in work meetings

You don’t want your boss looking up and seeing you texting away and completely ignoring what’s going on. Plus, if you’re the boss, it’s setting a bad example for your workers. Putting your phone on silent or the Do Not Disturb mode is a good idea in situations like these.


Turn off the phone in places such as a church, temple, or theater

Rice says there are no exceptions to this rule. There are just certain places where cell phones should be and often are off-limits. And remember, checking your phone and having it light up in a dark theater—even if you don’t talk, text, or Tweet—is just as rude. Here are 50 more etiquette rules you should always follow.


Avoid talking on the phone in a waiting room, but if you must, leave the area first

Waiting rooms can be crowded and noisy—not exactly conducive to a phone call. If you must talk on the phone, Rice suggests leaving the area so as not to disturb your fellow waiting room occupants. Here some other occasions when texting is actually more appropriate than calling.


Avoid using a phone on public transportation

On public transportation, people are often stressed, rushing, or exhausted. All they want to do is get where they’re going, not listen to your conversation about your cousin’s new boyfriend’s sister. “Be courteous when you are in public, enjoy the moment and your friends, but above all be smart about your smartphone manners,” says Rice. These are other annoying texting habits to avoid.


Lower your voice when using your phone in public

This phone etiquette guideline is a continuation of never shouting in public. Not only should you not shout, but you should automatically lower your voice. If you don’t want to hear other people’s phone conversations, they definitely don’t want to hear yours either. Here are more social manners that etiquette teachers wish you knew.


Don’t take a call in the middle of a face-to-face conversation

“Cell phones can destroy all your interpersonal dealings,” says Graff. “You should not even give the screen a glance while you’re speaking to someone at a party or a dinner.” Sometimes it’s best to think of how would you feel if that happened to you? If it would bother you, then you probably shouldn’t do it to someone else. In addition to phone etiquette slip-ups, here are more table etiquette mistakes you need to stop making.

Felissa Benjamin Allard
Felissa Allard has worked at The New York Daily News, Health, Life & Style, About.com and more. As a freelancer, she has had pieces published on What To Expect, SELF, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Modern Mom, Working Mother, and more. Her specialities are beauty, fashion, health, wellness, and parenting.