July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month. Are you ready to evaluate your standing? Answer the following seven questions to find out:
1. Is your phone in silent mode when you are spending time with anyone? Y/N
2. Do you put your phone away when people walk into the room? Y/N
3. Do you step away from a group when you get a phone call? Y/N
4. Do you keep your voice low when speaking on the phone while others are nearby? Y/N
5. Do you send texts or emails when you are angry? Y/N
6. Do you use your phone while driving? Y/N
7. Are you often on your phone while at a social gathering? Y/N
Hopefully, you have answered 'YES' to questions 1-4 and 'No' to questions 5-7. If not, then read on, because his article is for you!
The Seven Rules
Since the time of George Washington, who was well known for his polite behavior, group etiquette hasn't changed that much. When Washington was 14, he wrote down 110 rules under the title, "Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation." Back then, it was essential to point out things like rule number nine, "Put not off your clothes in the presence of others, nor go out your chamber half-dressed." His generation's rules of civility are still valid and adaptable for our mobile phone and device heavy time in history:
"Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present."
Silence your phone whenever you are with friends, family, or coworkers. Don't forget to flip to silent mode when attending a meeting or performance.
"Read no letters, books, or papers in company; but when there is a necessity for the doing of it, you must ask leave. Come not near the books or writings of another so as to read them or give your opinion of them unasked; also look not nigh when another is writing a letter."
Out of sight, out of mind, is a great rule to follow. If your phone isn't visible, it won't be a distraction. Be present in the moment you are in and pay attention to the people around you and everything that is occurring. When you interact with others, you are letting them know they are important to you.
Be not curious to know the affairs of others; neither approach those that speak in private.
Excuse yourself if you must accept a phone call. Other people don't need to know what is going on in your personal life, especially if you are at a dinner party.
Do not laugh too much or too loud in public.
SHHHH! Volume carries, so even if you step away from your group, remember to use an inside voice –no yelling.
Let your conversation be without malice or envy, for it is a sign of a tractable and commendable nature; and in all cases of passion admit reason to govern.
It is unwise to make any significant decisions during moments of extreme emotion. The same goes for sending correspondence via text, email, or voicemail if you are upset. Ask yourself how the message will affect your relationship, if it will be considered hurtful, or appropriate.
Undertake not what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your promise.
The simple rule is, don't use your phone and drive. Make yourself a promise that if you must message or call someone, you will pull over safely and do so.
When another speaks be attentive yourself and disturb not the audience; if any hesitates in his words, help him not, nor prompt him without desired; interrupt him not, nor answer him till his speech be ended.
It isn't easy to learn social norms when you regularly have your phone or device in your face. For instance, did you know that to "finish another's sentences" is considered rude? Allow others to struggle to get to their point. It shows them that you are patient and listening.
The End Call
Cell phones are amazing devices that assist in so many facets of day-to-day life. However, they can also hinder us from having meaningful interactions with others. Know that being in social environments includes walking down a street with others around you, a passenger in a vehicle, or standing in line. If you can adapt these seven rules of etiquette by George Washington, you will not only be able to remember to "keep your clothes on in the presence of others" but also hold your own in any social circle.
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Contributed by A. Mecham