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July 23, 2010
Phone Etiquette Makes an Impression
While we promise to check voice mail ‘til contract do us part, all ears within a six-mile radius should not be privy to our conversations.

Lately, the decibel level has reached the "we can hear you too loud and too clear zone." What’s going on? When did everybody’s business become everybody else’s?

Martin Cooper, who with his team at Motorola built one of the first cell phones in 1973, recently shared his personal thoughts on the state of the present cell phone situation and what he believed the future may hold in a recent “60 Minutes” interview on CBS.

On a sad note, Cooper made the disturbing comment to Morley Safer that "privacy is a thing of the past." An even sadder commentary was his reference to today’s "bad" phone manners.

You know, it doesn't take a telephone to make people be either stupid or rude," he said.

If the cell phone isn’t the culprit responsible for the undesirable behavior and it is the user, the cell phone becomes the enabler, bringing out the worst manners in people. This goes double when we’re talking business. This picture says more than a thousand words. In many situations, a smart phone may decrease, not add, points to our business IQ.

According to Vault’s Interview Manners Survey, "Up to 95 percent of employers surveyed indicated that job candidates' manners had declined in some way, shape or form, including rudely interrupting their interviewers by making cell phone call.”

While cell etiquette is an ongoing, overdone subject in our chatter, we need to make a better effort. Imagine describing yourself during an interview only to be interrupted by a funny ringtone. Imagine what it could say about you. How about "Whoops, There It Goes"?

Maybe it’s time we need to review the obvious. As technology advances and our phones perform magic in navigating us to unknown destinations, locating venues by voice recognition or pinpointing our whereabouts at the downloaded drop of an app, someone needs to invent an etiquette app to sound a shrilling alarm when we’ve forgotten our p’s and q’s.

How many times do we need to review basic training in hopes of eliminating the others' cell phone rudeness?

After you read my short list of tips, add your own, pass them on, and let us all take notes.

Mind your cell manners: Realize your behavior defines the professional you really are.

Respect. Aretha found it, and so can we: Keep your voice at a normal level.

Talk your Sunday best, too: Understand Emily Post still rules, and Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, also knows a thing or two.

Practice safe cell: Don’t walk and talk while driving or crossing any street.

Good vibrations: Set to vibrate in public places.

Smart talk: Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want anyone else to say.

Don't double talk: Engage in one conversation at a time.

Follow the signs: Turn off your cell phone when advised.

Double check: Make sure it’s off.


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Phyllis Briskman is a verse contributor and does PR/marketing. She sharpened her first pencil as retail fashion copywriter, writing to count before Twitter tweeted its first hello. Later, she flew the cubicle to do freelance creative becoming a writer of all trades, from beauty to fitness for catalogs, magazines, and websites. Born to brainstorm, she's named retail businesses and website domains. She loves quick wit, survives on laughter, is a little hokey, but aims to please because that’s what life’s all about.

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