Big Career Corner

Empowering insights into career building (and changing).

Mobile Manners and Modern Day Etiquette

Mobile etiquette survey results and how its ambiguity needs boundaries.

"Can you hear me now?" says the ubiquitous cell phone commercial but in reality, we can all hear you.

I recently attended an event sponsored by Intel and it got me thinking. Technically, mobile devices are still in their infancy but where are the social boundaries? Check that, are there any? It's no surprise that with modern technology the work day is now elongated (when does it offiically begin and better yet, when does it end?) can check e-mails and voicemails until the still of the night but what happens when it affects your neighbors as you negotiate a deal (rather loudly) on your cell phone at the airport? Or when you're out to dinner with friends and one of your friend's smart phone rings and he or she actually answers it?

Their survey results were startling: 91% of U.S. adults say they have seen people misuse mobile technology, 75% say mobile manners are worse now than in 2009 and one in five people surveyed say they're committing some of these inappropriate acts mainly because "everyone else is doing it."

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In fact, one in five adults admits to checking their mobile devices before they get out of bed in the morning! I have to admit, I'm one of those five. My BlackBerry is usually within reach from my bed. Although it's not necessarily demonstrating bad behavior towards others like the morning commuter talking loudly on his cell phone or the woman who is texting while driving, it's not exactly model mobile behavior. According to the survey, those are two of the main gripes. The third? Using a mobile device while walking on the street. 

And despite results which show we tend to not think of ourselves as the culprits and only recognize the faux pas when others seem to commit these acts, Anna Post of the Emily Post Institute gave some suggestions: First, she says to "practice what you preach." If you don't like the way others are using their mobile device in public, don't be that guy or gal.

Small moments count, she notes. Before calling someone, texting or even e-mailing in public, think first and figure out if your actions will impact others. If so, simply wait or move to another location. Most importantly, she says to be present. "Give your full attention to those you are with, such as when in a meeting or on a date." Even though you think you can multi-task, you'll make a better impression by focusing on the moment.

What's your biggest mobile pet peeve - either one you've seen or committed yourself? Better yet, how will you handle it going forward?

The day after attending the mobile etiquette presentation I kindly asked a woman on the subway to turn down the volume on her iPod. She politely obliged but something tells me she didn't realize how loud the volume was in the first place. Or who knows, maybe she did.

 

Vicki Salemi is a journalist, speaker, former recruiting executive and author of Big Career in the Big City.

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