In honor of National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, Jacqueline Whitmore, one of the nation’s foremost experts on etiquette and protocol, offers these steps for wireless phone users who want to avoid offending others:
Be all there. When you’re in a meeting, performance, courtroom or other busy area, let calls go to voicemail to avoid a disruption. In some instances, turning your phone off may be the best solution.
Keep it private. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid discussing private or confidential information in public.
Keep your cool. Don’t display anger during a public call.
Learn to vibe. Use your wireless phone’s silent or vibration settings in public places such as business meetings, religious services, schools, restaurants, theaters or sporting events so that you do not disrupt your surroundings.
Avoid “cell yell.” Remember to use your regular conversational tone when speaking on your wireless phone.
Follow the rules. Some places, such as hospitals or airplanes, restrict or prohibit the use of mobile phones, so adhere to posted signs and instructions.
Excuse yourself. If you are expecting a call that can’t be postponed, alert your companions ahead of time and excuse yourself when the call comes in; the people you are with should take precedence over calls you want to make or receive.
Send a message. Use Text Messaging to send and receive messages without saying a single word.
Watch and listen discreetly. New multimedia applications such as streaming video and music are great ways to stay informed and access the latest entertainment.
Alert silently. When using your phone’s walkie-talkie feature, send the person you’re trying to reach a Call Alert before starting to speak.
Be a good Samaritan. Use your cell phone to help others. According to CTIA, The Wireless Association, more than 224,000 calls a day are made to 911 and other emergency numbers by mobile phone users who report crimes and potentially life-threatening emergencies.
Focus on driving. Practice wireless responsibility while driving. Don’t make or answer calls while in heavy traffic or in hazardous driving conditions.
Spread the word. Discuss cell phone manners with friends and family members. Tell them that you are practicing new wireless phone etiquette rules and offer to share them (www.sprint.com/etiquette).