10 Rules of Cell Phone Etiquette—Are You Rude? (2023)

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10 Rules of Cell Phone Etiquette—Are You Rude? (1)

10 Rules of Cell Phone Etiquette

To me, there is nothing ruder than a loud cell phone conversation in a public space or an enclosed room. Yes, I have a cell too and have occasionally broken the rules. But I try very hard not to since I work with the public and have been at the butt end of the rudeness.

Have you noticed how some folks seem hopelessly attached to their phones? Like they are growing out of their ears or something. Who in the world are they talking to all that time? They must be very important people.

Here are my 10 top rules of cell phone etiquette, followed by a couple of links to quizzes that will establish just how rude you are.

1. Shut Off Your Cell in Places of Healthcare or Learning

This one is just common sense. Unless it's an emergency, shut your cell off in hospitals, clinics, classrooms, doctor's offices, libraries, etc.—places where important things are happening and people are trying to concentrate. These are obvious situations in which you can not only irritate other people, but actually hinder their ability to get well or learn. If you do have to take or place a call, do it quickly, quietly and, ideally, off to the side or in a discrete location. This goes for movie theaters, too. No, they're important, but it's rude to ruin a movie for other people just because you're addicted to your phone.

2. Pause Your Conversation When Ordering in a Place of Business

At the very least, you can put the phone down when you are ready to order something from a counter, whether it be the donut shop, seafood counter, fast food place or cleaners. Show some respect. It is just rude to point at what you want and continue to discuss your girlfriend's new haircut.

3. Do Not Drive While on a Cell or Texting!

Pay attention to your driving! I've noticed that the majority of bad drivers I run into (and there are plenty) are yacking on the phone while they drive. They tend to forget to use their signals or stay totally in their own lanes. Be a courteous driver but, more importantly, be a safe one. Distracted driving due to cell phones causes thousands of fatalities every year, so this is literally a life-or-death situation.

4. Don't Raise Your Voice

When talking on a cell, keep your voice at a normal tone. You don't have to scream. Technology is such that you can be heard in a normal voice. Once again, other people don't care about your day at the beach.

5. Don't Ignore the Folks You Are With

I observed a family unit at a restaurant once who all ate in silence except the dad because he was talking business on his cell phone the whole time. Not much fun for them and pretty disrespectful.

6. Pay Attention to What's Around You

Text messaging can be just as bad as talking. It seems to be addicting to those that do and they are always distracted. Pay attention. If you're running into objects and people while texting, it's time to put the phone down until you reach your destination.

7. Get Rid of the Annoying Ring Tones

Do you really need to have a circus theme song or a police siren to let you know someone's trying to reach you? Some of these ring tones are abrasive, distracting, and unnecessary.

8. Or at Least Turn Them Down

If you really must download your favorite high-pitched noise for a ring tone, at least keep the volume at a reasonable level. You don't want to startle people who around you every time you receive a call or text.

9. Don't Leave Long Messages Before the Beep

When I call you on your cell phone, please don't have five minutes of your favorite band entertaining me before I leave a message. It might be fun the first time, but after that, it's just wasting my time.

10. Most Importantly, Be Considerate in Public

You can always call back, and they can always leave a message. Stop looking at your phone and try looking at the world.

Take a Cell Phone Etiquette Quiz

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

suziecat7 (author) from Asheville, NC on October 03, 2012:

Thanks for reading everyone. We could do with a little more common courtesy in this world.

Adenise13 on October 03, 2012:

My cousin kills me with this one. Whenever I call her ,which isn't often, she stops talking to me to talk to the hoards of people that are always in her house. It ticks me off. One time I hung up on her because she talked to the live person a good three minutes while I called her name trying to get her attention. I don't think she even realized I was no longer on the line.

Bart on April 15, 2012:

LIBRARIES!! Turn your phones OFF before you go in!

Amanda on December 14, 2011:

All conversations are important and you should complete the first one before moving on to another one. That means if you are on the phone, don't start up a secondary conversation with those around you. On the flip side don't place the person you are with "on hold" to conduct another conversation with some one who's calling you. They can leave a message.

bill on December 09, 2011:

I think it is funny that, I just read all the comments and people seem to all agree but yet I still see it every day. I don't have cell phone because I don't want to be one of the people. If I am with a certain group of people or person I am with them. I think it if very simple but I see it happen when too much. And it is extremely annoying, I have a 10min rule, if the person I am with is on the phone longer then 10 mins I just get up and excuse myself and say have a good night.

suziecat7 (author) from Asheville, NC on September 04, 2011:

Enraged - Yes all conversations should be respected but it is still rude to address another person while you are on your cell phone. Finish the one conversation first. Thanks for reading.

Enraged texting girlfriend on September 02, 2011:

In a long distance relationship, I expect the conversations I have with my significant other to be the most important ones he's having. And, if he has to stop a texted, or phone, conversation, I expect to be told politely, instead of him just "Gonna put you in my pocket" when he hasn't received all my messages.

Yeah, it's rude to text while you're in the middle of real life company, yes, you should excuse yourself to do it, but remember, there is ANOTHER conversation going on, one that that "live person" INTERRUPTED.

I don't interrupt people while they're on the phone, it's rude. I don't interrupt people while they're talking to me with a phone call, either. ALL types of conversations should be respected...ESPECIALLY if they're with the person who is supposedly "The most important person in the world" to you.

quester.ltd on June 29, 2011:

Seems like we are all on the same page with this one - one other annoying habit - is the volume of the radio in a car. I really do not want to hear what someone else is playing in their car as they drive by - either in my car or at my house (quite a distance from the road and we still hear music(??) sometimes.

voted up



Mad Mother of a texter on May 03, 2011:

I feel it's extremely rude and anti-social behavior when my son is at a family function and continues to have his phone at his face texting instead of having adult conversation with the family and or guests of a party. It's too bad college education doesn't offer a cell phone etiguette class for this generation. They do not seem to get that it's very rude. It makes the people around feel insignificant.

Annoyed on February 07, 2011:

Correct me if I am wrong, but is it not standard that any cell phone has voicemail? If that is the case, there is no reason to pick up the phone while interacting with others in person. Why must the phone be answered at that very moment if you know it is not important?

As far as texts are concerned, is it absolutely necessary for the recipient to look at the text as soon as they hear the phone beep?

My significant other and I were having an indepth conversation, discussing important issues about our future together. It was a positive conversation. Several times, she receives texts from friends and proceded to pause our conversation in order to read the texts the very second they were received.

Mind you, I was the designated driver for a Super Bowl party and she had been drinking quite a bit.

I went to bed annoyed, as she fell asleep on the couch. It's not a huge deal and I will discuss with her tonight. I just want to request for her to be sensitive to my stand on cell phone useage and ask that she not act like her cell phone is crack and she is an addict.

Marcus Jones on December 07, 2010:

I agree with all of your rules except for number 9. Just because the person doesn't answer the phone immediately doesn't mean they arent going to answer it at all. if you call a person, the phone rings four times, and then the person picks up the phone, is the same thing as the black eyed peas singing for the equivalent of 4 rings and then the person picking up. don't just assume you are going to have to leave a message.

hubpageswriter on October 12, 2010:

A very good hub. This is so true, especially in hospitals as you have mentioned. They should respect patients need for quiet and peace and silence off the cellphones.

vlkinpa from South central Pennsylvania on July 13, 2009:

I suspected that I might be the only one who is annoyed by rude cell phone users. Now I know I'm not.

wanrey from Canada on July 11, 2009:

I have one to add when in the middle of a conversation with someone and your cell rings do not snatch up the phone taking that call and cut the person that is actually in the same room with you dead as if you were not talking with them only two seconds ago and treat them like they do not exist ,my daughter does this all the time its the rudest thing that you can possibly do.

MangoGirl on May 23, 2009:

You're rules make perfect sense. I agree some folks have no manners.

As for the people whose phones seem to have grown out of their ears, well, please realize that there are some people whose only way to connect with a best friend is through phone. It's not because they're important, it's because they want to be with someone. :)

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