Everybody knows the basics of good cell phone etiquette. Turn your phone off at weddings and funerals. Don’t text in movie theaters. Avoid having loud, personal conversations while you are in public. However, there are some cell phone rules of etiquette that aren’t as well-known, but breaking these rules can damage your work relationships and your reputation. Because July is Cell Phone Courtesy Month, we wanted to share some of the more complex aspects of cell phone etiquette, especially how it affects your work and business life.
In-Person Interaction Takes Precedence
A survey from VitalSmart reported that 89 percent of people had damaged a relationship due to cell phone usage. If you are having a conversation with someone, whether a casual conversation at the water cooler or lunch with a client, do not use your cell phone. Stopping an interaction to take or make a call, or absently nodding your head while sending a text message sends a message that the person in front of you is not important. In the rare occasion that you must take an emergency call, ask them if you may take the call, apologize, and excuse yourself.
Avoid Fact-Checking Someone in a Professional Setting
Constant access to the internet, email, and data saved on a cloud means never having to say, “I don’t know.” Is it always necessary to settle every uncertainty immediately, though? If you are having a debate with a friend, it’s fine to settle it with a quick Google check. However, if you are in a business setting and there is uncertainty, resist the urge to pull out your phone and run a quick search. Unless it is necessary to the subject at hand, finding the information can be time-consuming while possibly making you look petty. If it is important, suggest something like, “When I get back to my office, I’ll check on the information and let you know/email it out.” If it isn’t important, move on.
Leave Your Phone out of a Meeting
Like checking your phone while having a conversation with a friend or co-worker, having a cell phone out during a meeting sends the message that the phone is the highest priority, not the meeting. It also demonstrates a lack of attention and a lack of respect for the others in the meeting. With over two-thirds of business professionals surveyed saying texting and emailing is inappropriate during any type of meeting, it is not only rude, it can hurt your career. Follow the lead of CEOs, and keep the meeting space focused and productive by leaving your cell phone at the door.