Mobile Phone Etiquette
Who would have thought it but there are now more mobile phones in the UK in circulation than there are people and whilst most of us these days do not seem to go anywhere without making sure we’re carrying our mobiles with us, nowhere are they more important than in the business world where the size of the global business world has shrunk and many of us find ourselves ‘on message’ 24-7.
The problem is that whilst mobile phones have proved a godsend to busy people on the move, if not used appropriately, they can be highly annoying and disruptive so it’s important to practice good etiquette in terms of what you should and shouldn’t do when considering mobile phone use at work. In fact, rude or improper use of a mobile phone can cost you considerably when it comes to business and many a deal has been called off because of things like meetings constantly being interrupted by a person making or taking a mobile call. Here are some things you should be aware of.
In MeetingsIf you are in a meeting, ensure that your mobile is switched off or its ringer put on silent during the meeting. Don’t be tempted to put it on vibrate and leave it in your pocket. If it vibrates, that could be heard by other participants in the meeting which is just as likely to be as annoying, if not more so, than listening to a ring tone. Don’t answer or make calls or text or respond to texts during a meeting. In fact, a good habit to get into before you go into a meeting is to ask yourself, “Do I really need to take my mobile phone into this meeting with me?” If you can’t answer that affirmatively, then you should leave it back in your desk or in a secure place with the ringer turned off, of course. Also, even if it’s on silent, don’t leave it out on the table during a meeting. Meetings are part and parcel of business and colleagues and clients are used to that so you’re not going to lose business just because you can’t make or receive a call for an hour or so. Better still, update your voicemail message stating that you are currently in a meeting and therefore, you can’t take calls but that you’ll return any calls as soon as the meeting is over.
And, if you have absolutely no choice but to take a particular call during a meeting, have the courtesy to explain that to people before the meeting starts then, when you’re in receipt of the call, discreetly excuse yourself from the room. Also, show courtesy to the people in the meeting however by telling your caller that you are with people so that you’ll have to keep it brief.
Other Etiquette When Using Mobile PhonesAlways state your name when answering a call so that your caller knows they’ve reached the right person. A simple, “Hello, this is Charlie” or “Charlie speaking” will suffice. If someone has caught you at an inconvenient time, politely tell them so and say that you will call them back later. Don’t put them before what you were presently involved with doing, unless it’s absolutely necessary and never put a call first if you’re in a meeting with a boss or client.
If you’re driving along with other colleagues or clients and have your phone on hands-free, make sure that you inform the caller that you are with other people in the car as they may prefer to conduct the call when it’s more private. Also, the hands-free/speakerphone mode can often cause slight delays or jarring in a conversation which might end up making the conversation sound stilted or distorted which might be off-putting as well as causing you or the other person to miss hearing some important information.
Don’t take calls in the middle of a business lunch. Treat that for what it actually is most of the time - a meeting where you are conducting business. You should follow the same kind of mobile phone etiquette when it comes to a business lunch as you would if you were at a meeting.
If you have been asked to answer a colleague’s mobile phone whilst they are temporarily away from it, make sure you answer it along the lines of, “Hi, Charlie’s phone. This is Peter.” This is extremely important as, unlike an office or switchboard which can often be answered by anybody, when we call a mobile phone, we kind of expect that the person we are calling is always going to be the person who answers it. Also on a privacy and confidentiality issue, be very careful about discussing business in public places or on public transport. Not only could you be breaking company confidentiality rules, you could also end up annoying and/or distracting others.
Don’t text a client unless it has previously been agreed that this is a suitable mode of communication between you both and never text to break bad news or to postpone or cancel an appointment. That should always be done in a phone conversation. It is, however, acceptable to break an appointment by voicemail if your appointment is close to taking place and you’ve tried several times to get hold of the person on the phone.
Many phones have cameras these days and, whilst you would rarely need to use one in the workplace, if at all, if you do, make sure you ask permission of the person you intend to photograph first. And, if your phone is a works phone, don’t lend it to any members of your family or friends. A works mobile is for your use only and only to be used for work related matters, unless you’ve been told differently.
Finally, with regards to personal mobile phones, make sure you know what your company policy is with regards to them, before you use yours in the workplace. You’re there to work so your boss is likely to come down hard on you if you are making or taking personal calls on your mobile when you should be working. The same goes for text messaging too. All supervisors and bosses are hardly likely to be caught out these days, when they see that both your hands are under the desk. They’ll know only too well that you’re likely to be sending text messages and this could get you into trouble.