Becoming a More Courteous Cell Phone User

by Jillian Chertok

 July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, which means there are enough people in this country who don’t understand basic cell phone etiquette, that there needs to be an entire month devoted to raising awareness and trying to change behaviors.


National Cell Phone Courtesy Month was officially founded in 2002 by a woman named Jacqueline Whitmore, who is an etiquette expert, author and certified speaking professional. She’s also founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, which is a business etiquette consulting firm, so she’s pretty credible. She created this month with the “intent of making cell phone users more respectful of their surroundings.” I don’t really think most people have gotten the memo, so I’m going to help Jacqueline fight the good fight and offer some tips on how you can become a more respectful cell phone speaker, and a better person.


  1. Don’t use your cell phone on mass transit, unless it’s an emergency. I don’t know about you, but when I’m sitting, or more likely standing, on the subway on my way home from work, I’m decompressing and reading a book, which is how I like to relax. The last thing that I, and most likely everyone else crammed all around me, wants to hear is you talking to your significant other making dinner plans. Or, complaining to your friend about your day. That’s what texting is for. Everyone had long and/or hard days and yours probably isn’t any different. Do everyone a favor and type it instead of speak it. Again, unless it’s an emergency situation, and then by all means do what you gotta do.


  1. Don’t bring your cell phone into the bathroom. Ever. Unless you’re in some hostage type situation and going into the bathroom to make a call to safety is your only option. I find it quite uncomfortable to walk into a bathroom stall at the office and hear the person in the stall next to me using the bathroom and talking on her phone at the same time. Is anything that urgent? Not only does it make me feel a bit self conscious, but also I imagine the person on the other end isn’t enjoying the experience either.


  1. Put your phone on silent or vibrate when in a place of worship, theater, courtroom or any other public place that calls for respectful silence. This should be obvious, but sadly, it’s not. Just do it. It’s rude not to.


  1. Volume control is your friend. Use it. Private conversations are just that – PRIVATE. There’s really no need for you to have the volume on your phone so high that everyone around you can also hear the person you’re talking to. But you have trouble hearing, you say? I have a solution. Take the call when you’re in a more private setting, and then you can have the volume on as loud as you want, and you can respond equally as loud, without disrupting those around you.


  1. And last, but most importantly, DO NO DRIVE AND HOLD YOUR PHONE, DRIVE AND TEXT, OR WALK AND TEXT. It’s a major hazard, for both you and the people sharing the road or sidewalk with you. Don’t believe me? According to, in 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. But those numbers don’t seem to be scary enough to some, because according to the site, at any given daylight moment across the country, about 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving. Don’t let one of those people be you. Whatever you think you need to say or text urgently while you’re driving can wait. I promise.


And now that you know, be part of the solution and spread these tips to your family, friends, and any random stranger you see committing a cell phone faux pas. Humanity thanks you.

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