Thursday, December 14, 2006

Proposed Telephone Etiquette

Hello friends. Today I would like to discuss a very important behavioral issue which seems to have escaped the attention of society – telephone etiquette.

With the advent, ease, and availability of cellular technology, we have so many more ways in which to communicate via phone. Using cell phones, we can call, leave voicemails, text message, page, mobile IM, and even check our email via mobile web. Communication has more options than ever!! And with that, comes more opportunities to misuse this available technology…

I would imagine that every single person you know, even senior citizens and teenagers, have a cell phone. (Except for my great friend Roni Hunter, who just absolutely refuses!) With 300 million people gracing the population of the U.S., wouldn’t you say we probably have about 200 million cell phones in use today? So I have made my case that telephones and communication are a huge part of our existence in the 21st century. Yet, to my knowledge, no one has communicated any clear set of suggested rules to abide by, when it comes to telephone etiquette.

Please allow me to make such suggestions. I have collected input from several trusted advisors and here is our collective suggestive effort:

1. First of all, if you don’t reach someone that you call, if you want a return phone call… leave a message!! Don’t expect that if you don’t leave one, you’ll get a call back. Even if you just leave a “Hey, it’s X, call me. Bye.”! But if you don’t leave a message, you shouldn’t receive a call in response. Period.

2. Respond to communiation the way in which it was relayed. For example, if someone sends you a text message, text back – don’t call back. They probably texted you because they’re not able to speak, for whatever reason. If someone leaves you a message, if there was a specific question, it’s not entirely inappropriate to text back the answer, but it would be best to call back.

3. If trying to reach someone, leave ONLY one message per day until the person calls you back. The recipient GOT the message, we promise. To leave more than one message a day without being called back is stalking, and it’s annoying. Unless your purpose is to stalk and annoy, do not leave multiple messages to the effect of “just trying you again…”! If you want to try and catch someone on the phone one more time, perhaps call and don’t leave another message, knowing that the recipient already has a voicemail, and knows you want to talk – just be patient!

4. Please desist with the calling, not leaving a message, hanging up and calling right back over and over, unless it’s an emergency, or you perceive there might be an emergency. I will answer a call if I see that a person is frantically calling, assuming that it’s extremely important – if it’s not, then you better be prepared for an earful.

5. Oh, and unless you’re a creditor, take your phone off Blocked ID status. Perhaps we are spoiled, but people just don’t like answering calls from callers that do not identify themselves.

6. If you have dialed the wrong number, please excuse yourself and politely get off the phone. Do not hang up – that’s rude!

7. Turn off your phone or onto vibrate during: weddings, funerals, movies, live performances, sports events, business meetings, classes, dates, in places of worship, restrooms, restaurants, libraries, museums, doctor or dentist waiting rooms.

8. Refrain from using your phone in a place where others can't escape your conversation, such as in an elevator or on public transit. And when talking in public, please keep your voice down. Noone wants to hear your fighting with your husband about your finances and business calls should be protective of proprietary information.

9. If you wear one of those silly Bluetooth earpieces or microphone things, please take it off when you’re not using it – noone can tell if you’re talking or not, and it’s confusingly irritating!

Please note that I’m not saying that I am immune to some of these trespasses – I am guilty of some, as well. However, I think these are solid suggestions that will help us communicate more harmoniously as a society. If you agree, then please pass this along, and let’s try to make this world a better place, shall we?

If you have any input to these proposed rules, by all means, let's hear them!

Love, Mer

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