National Cell Phone Courtesy Month Comes Calling

Boorish cell phone behavior is getting so problematic that cell phone providers are offering advice on how to behave.

W. David Gardner, Contributor

July 29, 2005

2 Min Read

This weekend will be your last chance to enjoy National Cell Phone Courtesy Month. Enjoy it, because anecdotal evidence is growing that cell phone users are getting increasingly rude. Boorish cell phone behavior is getting so problematic that cell phone providers are offering advice on how to behave.

The woman who started the holiday, Jacqueline Whitmore, sometimes called "The Cell Phone Courtesy Queen," is conducting etiquette classes that include polite cell phone behavior. For $275 a pop attendees at her Protocol School of Palm Beach (Florida) get a three-hour session including a five-course meal at the Ritz Carlton. Attendees learn all kinds of proper business etiquette including how to behave on cell phones.

"Poor wireless etiquette can have a negative impact on how you are perceived both professionally and socially," Whitmore says on the Sprint homepage. "Think about that before talking loudly about intimate matters on your mobile phone in a crowd of people."

Whitmore, who is Sprint’s etiquette spokesperson, advises the telephony company in its attempts to improve cell phone etiquette. currently features a Wireless Courtesy Test. Given that more than 15,000 persons took the test in a previous month, there seems to be widespread public interest in the issue. In the earlier Sprint test, some 80 percent of respondents said cell phone users have been getting worse.

However, 97 percent of test takers thought they were generally courteous, thereby raising the question whether the test is an example of preaching to the choir. The test will be posted on the Sprint homepage through August.

Another cell phone service provider, Nokia, also lists several etiquette suggestions for cell phone providers. Nokia’s advice: let voice mail take some messages rather than talk in a public place, use text messaging when possible, don’t engage in loud "cell yell," turn off your phone in public places, and change ring tones to match any given setting. In this regard, "Take Me Out to The Ball Game" would be considered appropriate for a baseball game and "Fly Me To The Moon" might be just the thing for the airport.

Other indications that the public is increasingly finding cell phone use in public places a nuisance is the opposition to the use of mobile telephones on commercial aircraft. Basing their opposition on surveys of the public, both the FCC and the FAA are opposed to permitting cell phones to be used during flights, largely because many passengers consider them to be a nuisance.

Whitmore, the author of a book, "Business Class, Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work," says there’s nothing dramatically different about being courteous on a cell phone; it’s just traditional common sense and old-fashioned respect for your neighbor.

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