PoPP – Chapter 16 – Let’s talk about it


In my travels, I have observed disintegration in our phone etiquette.

Top observations of poor phone etiquette:

1- Multi-tasking is a myth and definitely poor etiquette for a phone conversation. People can tell if you are doing something else while talking to them. While on the phone you have choices:

  1. Best: Give whomever you are chatting with your full attention.
  2. Good: Let someone know that this is not a good time to chat and call them back.
  3. OK: If you need to divert your attention for a moment, let whomever you are talking on the phone with know that and give them the option of waiting for you or conversing at another time.

muti tasking

2- When you are on the phone talking to one person, do not have a side conversation with another person.  This dilutes both conversations and can also be very confusing. If someone comes into the room where you are holding your phone conversation you can:

  1. Best: Tell the person who has come into your space that you will talk to them later
  2. Good: Tell the person you are on the phone with that you will call them back later
  3. OK: Give the person you are on the phone with the option of waiting a moment


3- Hands free etiquette is important.  When having a phone conversation people will be unaware of others in near you who may overhear your conversation. Hand free technology can make for a bad connection and a lot of background noise as well.

  1. Best: Let people know you are hands free and if there is someone else in the room or nearby.
  2. Good: Give the person on the other end of a hands free phone conversation the choice to wait for another time when the conversation can be held one to one and in private.
  3. OK: If someone else is nearby who can overhear your conversation, identify that person.
  4. Even better: Don’t use hands free and consider getting a head set.


4- When attending a social event with others, it is poor etiquette to have your cell phone out and text or answer calls.  If there is an emergency and you must respond to the call or text you can:

  1. Good: Excuse yourself and step out or away for a minute
  2. OK: If you must stay at the table, apologize and let you companion(s) know this is an urgent call you have to take
  3. Best- leave your Blackberry or cell off

movies on phone

5- For safety’s sake DO NOT talk/ or text while driving

Emergency personnel work the scene of a deadly train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)