Office etiquette: Tips for “smart” phone use

Business etiquette tells us that answering a cell phone call during a meeting is something highly frowned upon. But what does business etiquette have to say about emails, texts and tweets?

Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that answering an email on your Blackberry or iPhone during a meeting can be just as rude as answering a call.

The chances that you’ll find someone in your office with a cell phone that is simply a phone have become quite slim these days. Along with calling, most of the cell phones on the market also have ability to text, email, tweet and instant message.

Because of the wide-range of tools these smartphones provide, it can be hard for some people to ever take them out of their pocket. For many of the mobile addicts out there, a review of some general business etiquette tips are in order. 

The following tips can help any business-etiquette offender learn how to be more well-mannered:

  • Ask yourself: Is it really urgent? Most of the time, a call or email can wait until you’re out of a meeting or finished with an important task. If it isn’t urgent, let it go and check it later. If it is urgent, politely excuse yourself from the room and handle it quickly.

  • Don’t touch it. Even if you’re using the phone to take notes during the meeting, your colleagues may assume that you’re texting a friend or playing a game. Simply looking at your phone during a meeting causes people to wonder what you’re up to and diverts their attention away from the presenter.

  • Keep it off the table. Whether you’re in a conference room or a restaurant, it’s best to keep your phone off of the table. Keeping it in plain view shows to the people around you that they’re less important than what’s on your phone.

  • Lose it. If you find that you can’t get through a meeting or meal without constantly checking for a new message, lose it. Leave your phone at your desk and eliminate the temptation.

  • Post a sign. Some people need a clear sign that using their cell phone in certain areas of the office is not allowed. Post a “No Cell Phone Sign” to encourage people to silence or turn off their cell phones.


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