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Cell Phone Etiquette

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Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I was having lunch in a casual restaurant with a coworker, and my new cell phone rang. I answered it, but my coworker teased me later about not knowing cell phone etiquette. I noticed others in the restaurant using their cell phones. Was I in error? Please tell me the basics of cell phone use.



Dear Newbie,

Generally, unless an urgent call is expected, cell phones should be turned off when dining. Some basic rules for cell phone use are:

1. Turn your cell phone off or set the ring to "silent" or "vibration" when in these locations: restaurant, airplane, theater, library, museum, church, classroom, business meeting, hospital.

2. When in public, always keep the conversation very brief and to the point. Long conversations should take place in private.

3. Keep your voice low when talking in public so as not to distract others around you.

4. When in small enclosed spaces such as a doctor's waiting room, leave the room and go out in the hall to converse.

5. When you are with someone and you need to answer your cell phone, excuse yourself. If the conversation will be more than a minute, move a slight distance away to carry on the discussion.

6. Driving and talking are not about manners or etiquette, but about safety. It's best to avoid using a cell phone while driving, and in many states it is against the law unless using a hands-free device. If you receive a call, you can always call back at a more safe and convenient time.

7. Ear buds: hands-free works well, especially when driving, shopping, or gardening.