By now you’ve heard about the ruckus created over the checkout sales clerk at Sainsbury store who refused to serve a customer until she finished her phone call. This has given rise to many people throwing their support behind the clerk and anger that the store wouldn’t back her up. I think this incident is showing that people are really fed up with bad cell phone manners. I’ve put together my own wish list of civil cell phone use.

  1. Obey the 10 foot rule…if there is someone within 10 feet of you, move to another area to have your conversation.
  2. Turn off the phone at business meetings, movie theatres, places of worship and the library.
  3. Line-ups, public transit & medical centres aren’t appropriate places to have cell phone conversations. The other people around you are held “hostage” listening to the details of your personal life.
  4. It’s incredibly rude to continue talking on your cell phone when doing business with a person in the flesh who is right in front of you. Finish the phone call and then be attentive to the coffee/retail sales assistant.
  5. Conversely, coffee/retail assistants should be giving the customer in front of them their full attention instead of answering the business phone.
  6. Parents, turn off the gadgets when you’re at the playground or walking with your children. Too often, I’ve seen toddlers walking too close for comfort near the curbside while mom is absorbed with her smartphone.
  7. Work isn’t the place to up-date the Facebook status or be checking personal emails every minute. Turn it off completely as you have work to do!! That’s why the company pays you a salary!!
  8. Checking your email while talking to someone is very disrespectful, for obvious reasons.
  9. Avoid leaving lengthy voicemail messages…get to the point quickly. Chances are better that the person will return your call
  10. Do you need to have a difficult conversation with a friend/work colleague? A text message may go awry since the potential is high that there’ll be misunderstandings. Pick up the phone and arrange a face to face meeting so the full message can be conveyed accurately through body language & voice inflection together.
  11. Texting while driving or even walking is a dangerous mix. Whole families have been wiped out in tragic accidents because the driver was texting. Distracted pedestrians have been hit and killed by vehicles, also. The same goes for cell phone conversations using “hands-free” devices. There is a cognitive disconnect when talking & driving. This is one time when multi-tasking could prove deadly.

Cell phones won’t be going away any time soon. They are an excellent tool but like anything else, a tool is only helpful when used correctly. Remember your children are watching & listening to your example!!


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Maria and her Etiquette Program have been featured in several media outlets including:

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