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manners MATTER O The Practice of Phone Etiquette Karen La Corte is an etiquette and manners expert trained and certified by the Emily Post Institute in Vermont. She has been teaching etiquette and manners to children and adults for over thirty years. She is also a certified image and fashion consultant. Karen is happy to answer any personal eti- quette or image questions you may have by emailing her at 70 BY KAREN LA CORTE ut of all the questions I get concerning manners, telephone etiquette is probably one of the most popular. Parents, teachers, clergymen, co-workers and management have all been frustrated at one time or another with our use of the telephone. Alexander Graham Bell would be surprised at the advances the modern telephone has made since its invention in 1876 as a means of both communication and socialization. Some folks have even given up their landlines in favor of the almighty cell phone. Don’t get me wrong, the cell phone is one of the greatest advances in technology today. We can not only talk to our friends and do business on the cell phone, but we can check emails, catch up socially on Facebook, and quickly text folks when we are either too busy or incapable of talking at the moment. We can even take photos and videos! The cell phone is not only convenient, but it is the perfect emergency device when you need assistance immediately. Parents feel a little more secure sending their kids off to camp or to college knowing that they can be reached on a moment’s notice. However, there are rules for using that wonderful invention. Have you ever seen folks walking down the street, head down, phone up to their ear, oblivious to traffic and everything else around them? Dangerous! I’ve heard phones go off in church, classrooms, meetings, concerts, weddings and even funerals. Have you ever been on the phone listening to someone on the other end eating or chewing gum? It’s not very pleasant is it? I have to commend my husband Frank. During his birthday dinner, he had our family turn off their cell phones and put them in a basket in the middle of the table. Everybody looked at him like he was crazy, but it was the most enjoyable dinner we’ve had. No interruptions, no funky ringtone, no one checking their texts or emails. Folks were actually engaging in wonderful conversation, looking people in the eye. Of course, Frank offered anyone who answered their phone the opportunity to pay the dinner bill! There is nothing worse than having an in- person conversation with someone only for them to take a call in the middle of it. Unless it’s an emergency, it is rude and just plain bad manners. The message they are giving is that the person on the phone is more important than you are. Whether you are using a landline or a cell phone, there are basic rules of telephone etiquette. This applies to both business and personal use. And it all boils down to respect GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MAY/JUNE 2016 and consideration for others. • Give your name at once when calling someone. Don’t ask them to give their name first. Never say, “Who’s this?” Instead say, “Hi, this is Jane Doe. May I please speak with John Smith?” • Speak clearly and distinctly. Be aware of your tone. This is a courtesy not only to the person on the other end of the phone, but those around you. • Whas Up, Sup? Yo, Yea, or What? These are not ways to answer the phone. Always be considerate and have the utmost respect for anyone on the other end of the telephone. • Monitor how loud you may be. Do not chew gum or eat while talking. Rustling papers, emptying the dishwasher, working on the computer are all distractions and are annoying to the person on the other end of the phone. • Do not allow interruptions to occur during conversations. Give the person you are talking to your undivided attention. Do not carry on side conversations with other people around you. • When leaving a message, speak clearly and slowly. State your name, number (with area code), and the time you called, and leave a brief message. Do not ramble. • Turn your cell phones off or put them on “manner mode” (vibrate or silent ring) when entering meetings, the classroom, church, the theater, a library, a restaurant or any place where hearing your cell phone ring would be a disturbance. • Never use a hand-held cell phone while driving. Get a headset or speaker phone for the car. • Watch your language, especially when others can overhear you. And steer clear of confrontational issues on the phone. Table the issue until you can talk in person. • Avoid talking about personal or confidential topics in a public place. • Be in the moment. Have respect and consideration for those you are engaging with. Returning calls, emails, and texts can be done when you are alone. And, it’s okay to schedule this a couple of times a day instead of being a slave to your phone. This can be very liberating. Be in control of your phone, don’t let it control you! • When you are finished with your phone conversation, please say good-bye.