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by Cheryl Snapp Conner Inc Magazine

Cellphone courtesy month is here, and not a moment too soon. We can thank Jacqueline Whitmore, a business etiquette expert from Palm Beach, Fla., for creating National Cell Phone Courtesy Month in 2002.

People using one of the most intrusive devices in history should be courteous all year, of course. But cellphone abuses are rampant, according to customer service expert Nancy Friedman, who is known as the Telephone Doctor. So in honor of the month, Friedman has shared the most irritating cellphone offenses that need to be curbed.

Public areas

Taking calls in restaurants, during plays, seminars, business meetings, movies or in other public areas is a sure way to annoy others. Keep your ringer off. When the phone vibrates with a call you simply must answer, take your call to a private area or text a note that you’ll reply later.

In business, if you absolutely must leave a meeting to take a call, do it skillfully. For example, my colleagues and I will never forget the former employee (emphasis on former) who walked out of a meeting with our chairman with no remark or apology to take a personal call.

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Volume control

It’s human nature, but most cellphone users are unaware of the way their volume rises when they talk on the phone. You don’t need to shout.

Another important note in business communication: Be aware of who is overhearing your call. A major publication famously learned of a pending acquisition by overhearing the company CEO shrieking into his cell from the rental car shuttle at an airport. Don’t let this happen to you.

No hands

If you must talk while driving, it is still critical that you put both hands on the wheel. Several states now have laws that prohibit talking on the phone while driving unless you are using hands-free devices. Regardless, distracted driving is dangerous. You cannot do two things well at once.

Showing off

Big deal; you’ve got the newest model of phone. Some folks look as though their head is on a spindle to ensure everyone within range is seeing their phone.

Interview setting

Friedman recalls the time she was interviewing a job applicant and the young woman’s cell rang. Unbelievably, she answered the call.

When you go into a meeting, don’t touch your phone unless it’s to divert a call because you forgot to put your phone on silent. Do not text during meetings.

Many employees have earned negative points by forgetting that when the phone pings, people’s heads instinctively turn, making them privy in many cases to whatever you’ve typed on the phone. It’s also very disrespectful.

Funerals or other solemn occasions

Yes, sadly, some people leave their phones on during events as solemn as a funeral, a speech or a graduation.

At an industry gala once that featured Apple CEO Tim Cook, the room was respectfully hushed — except for the young woman who’d come as a guest of the musical entertainer and was chatting away on her phone.

In the air

Many of the calls we hear from airplanes are useless: “Hi, I’m on the plane. We’re about to take off. I’ll let you know when I land.” Then, a few hours later, “Hi, we landed.” These conversations can wait or be handled by text.

One exception to this rule is when your plane is stuck on the tarmac and you need to alert co-workers that you’ll be late to the big meeting.


The people in the washroom do not need to hear your dinner plans, kid pickup details, errand list, woman trouble, etc., emanating from inside your stall.

If the communication is truly an emergency, simply text or find a quiet area where you are alone.

Blue Tooth

These devices allow you to talk without holding the phone, but in any situation other than driving, they create a distraction for everyone around you as they try to figure out if you’re talking to yourself or to them.


This small area magnifies your conversation to the captive audience who can neither ignore you nor get away. Have your conversation in the lobby, end the call, then get on the elevator.


While she may not say anything, your stylist is not able to work around your phone and it’s rude to stare at your cell during the entire appointment. Give it a break.

Have a conversation with your stylist and ensure your haircut is going as planned.

General workplace behavior

Be considerate of others. Give your job your undivided attention and give your co-workers the respect of not being distracted by your personal calls. Wait until your break, your lunch hour or after work to use your cellphone.

Most situations do not require constant cell availability.

Above all, when using a cell, remember the Golden Rule: Your behavior with your phone should be what you’d want from others.

Cheryl Snapp Conner is the founder and CEO of SnappConner PR and the creator of Content University.

Copyright © 2017, Chicago Tribune
Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman

Communication and customer service expert Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is back in the saddle again. Well, back into live onsite programs, and still offering her ZOOM programs, in a cost saving manner. Whichever you choose, onsite or Zoom, you’ll be glad you did. The reviews are excellent, and audiences have loudly applauded her in either area. Sales, customer service and communication skills are her area of expertise, and she welcomes calls, texts, or emails. You can reach her directly at; through the website at, where you can sign up for her newsletters; or call/text directly at 314-276-1012 central time. Bring it on. Whether you need a keynote speaker or workshop/breakout speaker on customer service and communication skills, you’ll make a great choice.