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Proper Phone Etiquette: 10 Obnoxious Mistakes to Avoid



Hey you!

Yeah...you...with the cell phone glued to your face…LOOK AT ME.

Are you driving people nuts with rude phone habits?

If you’re anything like the average cell phone user, I bet you are (I’m definitely guilty)...

The problem is, some bad habits are so ingrained into society that you might not even realize you’re doing anything wrong.

That’s why I whipped up these 10 commandments of proper phone etiquette. By following them, we can make the world a better place.

(And if you're doing anything on this list of no-no’s, knock it off!)


The 10 Commandments of Proper Phone Etiquette

Consider this your new bible of telephone etiquette...


#1.) Thou shalt not glue-ith thy face to thy phone

Just because everyone's doing it, doesn't make it right.

If you are in a public place and your feet are moving, stop looking at your phone.

Eyes up!

If I get crashed into by one more phoneface walking blindly through the grocery store, I'm gonna lose it.

All kidding aside, texting and walking is actually super dangerous. It causes over 11,000 injuries and deaths per year (especially while crossing the street).

crossing the street on the phone


#2.) Thou shalt not taketh photos of strangers

Just because we all walk around with cameras in our pockets, doesn't mean everyone wants their picture taken.

If you want to snap a photo of a specific person, ask first. This is especially important with kids.

Never ever ever take a picture of a child that's not yours unless you have the parent’s permission.

Imagine if it was your kid. You wouldn't want some weirdo with photos of your babies on their phone, would you?

no taking photos of strangers


#3.) Thou shalt not abuse-ith thy speakerphone

One sunny afternoon I was sitting in my doctor's waiting room, diligently studying my Spanish flashcards, when a straight-outta-Compton-looking gangster barged in and proceeded to have a dramatic 20-minute speakerphone discussion with his girl about where to go for sub sandwiches that night.

Not only did he crash my study session, he also made me hungry.

don't overuse speaker phone


#4.) Thou shalt not destroyeth the peace

Sometimes I feel like people forget they’re living in a world with other humans in it.

If there's other people in the room, put on your headphones or turn down your volume.

And under no circumstances is it necessary to have your keyboard or camera shutter sound activated. Why people still do this, I'll never understand...

don't be distracting with your phone


#5.) Thou shalt not ignore thy neighbor

There is nothing more disrespectful than messing around on your phone while someone else is talking to you.

Whenever someone does this to me (I'm looking at you, wife 😇), I just stop talking until they put it away. They’re basically telling me that what I have to say is not important.

That's why, whenever you're…

  • Chatting with friends
  • Eating with your family
  • Spending time with your kids

...pocket your phone and keep it out of sight.

It’s crazy to make our loved ones compete with an electronic device for our attention.



#6.) Thou shalt not respondeth to non-urgent messages

This goes for both phone calls, messages, or any notifications…

If it’s not urgent, save it until when you’re alone.

If it is urgent, politely excuse yourself, mentioning the urgency (“Sorry to interrupt you, but this is an important call, can you hold on a sec?”).

It is NOT ok to suddenly answer your phone, cut off whoever is talking to you, and stick up one finger to get them to shut up and wait.

I’d even take this rule one step further and apply it even when you're by yourself. If you’re constantly responding to non-urgent messages as they come in, you’re seriously sabotaging your productivity.

answer urgent messages only


#7.) Thou shalt not avoideth real life

I think we can all agree that cell phones have seriously F-ed up our social skills.

How often do you pull out your phone just to make yourself look busy and avoid having to talk to (or even look at) other humans?

If you're like me, it's every day.

Not only is using your cell phone as a social crutch unhealthy, but by not talking to that stranger next to you, you could be missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime.

(Speaking of missed opportunities, if you’ve never watched this viral video, it’s a doozy)


#8.) Thou shalt not forgetteth thy surroundings

As the saying goes...there’s a time and a place for everything.

Are you paying attention to your environment when using your phone?

If you’re at the office, keep it professional.

If you’re at the spa, keep it quiet.

And if there are little ears around, keep it G-rated.

keep calls g rated in public


#9.) Thou shalt not interrupteth others

Proper phone etiquette also include how you act around other people who are on the phone.

For some of us, taking important calls without st-t-tuttering and losing our train of thought is challenging enough.

Add in someone distracting us in real life, and we’re doomed.

If someone is on a call, save what you have to say until they’re finished.

throwing football while on phone


#10.) Thou shalt not offend thy brethren

This one comes back to respecting our environment.

Are the videos we’re watching, music we’re listening to, and ringtones we set appropriate for our surroundings?

If you think something could be offensive (and I realize basically everything is offensive these days), try to keep it to yourself.

no phone in church


Telephone Etiquette Rules Cheatsheet

Alright ya’ll, let’s recap those commandments (this time in plain English….

Did I miss anything? Leave your phone etiquette pet peeves in the comments below!


Mitch Glass

mitch glass

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