Etiquette at work

Being smart about smartphones

While landline office phones are still very much in use, smartphones have become integral to business communications today. They keep us connected and can save headaches.

When you are late for an appointment because you’re stuck on a bus or train, or in a traffic jam, you can alert people. By calling, you minimize the negative effect of being late.

Or when you’re on your way home and remember that you promised to get back to someone, instead of having to wait until you arrive home, you can use your smartphone to save the situation.


These instances represent opportunities for making good use of smartphones. But just because you need to use the phone for an important business reason doesn’t excuse you from being courteous to the people near you. Some reminders:

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 Quiet cars on trains should be respected. Before you make your call, get up and go to another car where calls are permitted.

 If you are seated in an area where it’s OK to use your smartphone, remember to avoid talking about personal or confidential information. You may have to limit your call simply to letting the other person know you will get back to them.

 Any time you are in public, remember that people tend to talk louder when talking on a smartphone. Talk with a normal conversation voice.

 Texting or sending an e-mail may be an excellent alternative to making a call. You are much less likely to disturb the people near you on a plane, train, bus, or car if you text or e-mail.


 If you are driving, pull over before you use your device.

 If you are walking, don’t lose track of where you are and inadvertently bump into another person, or, worse, step out into a crosswalk or the street. Don’t be an accident looking for a place to happen.

 Put your phone away as you arrive for a meeting or meal at a restaurant. Best practice is to shut it off entirely, but if you must have it on, set it to vibrate. If you do get a call, or need to make one, excuse yourself from the table and make the call in the lobby or, if necessary, step outside. At a meeting or business meals, making or receiving a phone call is clearly both inconsiderate and intrusive.

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