Etiquette tips for National Cell Phone Courtesy Month

Did you know that July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month?
Author and etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore founded the event in 2002 with the intent to encourage cell phone users to be more respectful of their surroundings by using some simple cell phone etiquette principles, according to
According to some, the cell phone is one of the greatest inventions of our time, but as the cell phone has developed into the smartphone, it's also one of the greatest distractions.
It's not just the loud conversations you are forced to listen to or the nerve-jangling sound of a custom ring tone, but even worse in our society today: being ignored due to texting.
Cell phone usage is also to blame for injuries and deaths on our roads.
Cell phone use is now estimated to be involved in 26 percent of all motor vehicle crashes – up from the previous year, according to the National Safety Council.  It also states that an estimated 5 percent of crashes involve texting, while 21 percent involve drivers talking on handheld or hands-free cell phones.
It raises the question, can cell phone courtesy even exist?
Whitmore offers these steps to avoid offending others:
  1. 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.
  2. Keep it private. 
    • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid discussing private or confidential information in public. You never know who may be in hearing range.
  3. Keep your cool. 
    • Don't display anger during a public call. Conversations that are likely to be emotional should be held where they will not embarrass or intrude on others.
  4. 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.
  5. Avoid "cell yell." 
    • Remember to use your regular conversational tone when speaking on your wireless phone. People tend to speak more loudly than normal and often don't recognize how distracting they can be to others. 
  6. 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. Some jurisdictions may also restrict mobile phone use in public places. 
  7. 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.
  8. Send a message. 
    • Use text messaging to send and receive messages without saying a single word.
  9. Watch and listen discreetly. 
    • New multimedia applications such as streaming video and music are great ways to stay informed and access the latest entertainment. However, adjust the volume based on your surroundings in much the same way that you would adjust your ringer volume. Earphones are a great way to avoid distracting others in public areas.
  10. 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. If you're around other people, turn off your phone's external speaker and use the vibration setting to minimize any disturbance and to respect your contact's privacy.
  11. Focus on driving. 
    • Practice wireless responsibility while driving. Don't make or answer calls while in heavy traffic or in hazardous driving conditions. Place calls when your vehicle is not moving, and use a hands-free device to help focus attention on safety. Always make safety your most important call.
  12. 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.  Sprint offers other tips here:
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