How to improve your phone etiquette

March 16, 2017

So, what’s the deal? You’ve given up texting for Lent? Your boss complained that you’re constantly glued to your screen? Or you keep looking up on the train and seeing people glaring at you with unabashed fury?

Maybe you’ve lost all sense of how to use your phone in a way that’s polite and people-friendly, so let’s go over the basics. If you follow these simple steps you’ll be back to smiles, high fives and good vibes.

Rule 1: Remember that people have ears and can hear you

Howdy there stranger – guess what, you just had a loud conversation about your bowels on public transport and now everyone knows about your gluten intolerance! This is what’s called a social faux-pas. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Accidentally taking your Mum through a traumatising blow-by-blow account of your break-up on a Megabus to Bristol. Revealing that you have stationery-specific kleptomania as part of an elaborate anecdote on a commuter train. Shouting at your other half for booking a late dinner in a busy office environment. It’s easily done but pan out on those examples and there’ll always be a person in the background giving you a death-stare.

Tip: If you need to have a long, personal chat with someone over the phone –  that’s amazing. Just be mindful of who is around you and whether they’d want to overhear the intricacies of your life.

Rule 2: Nobody has their phone on loud anymore

Unless you’re a middle-aged mother, in which case, carry on, ‘cos that’s completely legit. For everyone else, it’s time to wake up and realise that we live in an age of silent/vibrate only. Our phones are usually visible enough for us to be able to see if someone is calling or texting us. And, if you’re honest, you’ll admit that you too are furious if you hear someone’s iPhone ringtone blast out in any setting. Or (and this might be the worst) the tiny clicking sound of someone sending a long, overly edited text or email when their phone is loud and on full volume. Not needed. Not necessary. Shhhh.

Tip: If you must have your ringtone on loud, because of work or something, then at least go into Settings > Sounds and turn off Lock Sounds and Keyboard Clicks.

Rule 3: Your phone is not an internal organ

Sounds like something you should just know, right? But you’d be surprised at the number of people who walk around with their phone in their hand, or on the desk next to them, like it’s an IV unit containing particles of social life needed to sustain every breath. Of course, at one point we’ve all realised that maybe it’s a bit rude to have a phone on the dinner table. So what do we do? We turn it over. Yep. Phone case up. Now it’s OK!

What? No! No, that’s not OK. It’s still there, like the 2001: A Space Odyssey black monolith. Always in your field of vision. Hanging out. It’s like something from a horror film. Remember that your phone is an accessory, not a lifeline.

Tip: If you find yourself in a social interaction which is about connecting with people face-to-face (dinner, date, family time, etc.) then put your phone in your bag, your pocket, or in another room.

Rule 4: Asking for the Wi-Fi is kinda passive aggressive sometimes

Not if you’re in a cafe and obviously about to work on your bestselling novel (i.e. scroll endlessly through Reddit for ‘inspiration’). Not if you’re at an office. We’re talking like, when you’re not meant to be online. So, at a fancy restaurant. Or when you’ve gone round to a friend’s house for dinner. If the first thing you do in a social situation is ask for Wi-Fi, it kinda reads as “Heyyyy, thanks for wanting to spend time with me, but I would way, way way rather not speak to you or look at you in any way, thanks.”

Tip: Instead of asking for Wi-Fi – ask yourself whether you need it in the first place?

Rule 5: Respond. People know you’re lying

Every single day people get texts that are boring. Asking them to a party they have no interest in, or asking them about the money they owe, or asking ‘are u ok hun?’ At the time it’s tempting to think, “Pfft, nah, i’ll reply another time,” but you’re lying to yourself and everyone else. You won’t reply for two, maybe three weeks. And then you’ll go, “Heyyyy sorry just so manic these days.”

You know you lied.

They know you lied.

We all know you lied.

The blue ticks? They never lie.

And yet, we all do it, don’t we? And HATE it when our friends do it to us. So maybe it’s time to just, stop? Stop and actually reply to texts? Just a thought.

Tip: If you don’t want to go to brunch then just reply and say, “Hey thanks for the invite, but not this time, cheers bud,” and watch the respect amongst your peers soar to new heights.

No more excuses, OK? Hopefully these phone etiquette tips will actually help you in your quest to be a better person. Good luck.

Main image courtesy of Sabri Tuzcu via Unsplash