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Do you practice good phone etiquette?

Good manners are something we should all be using everyday and now, with the introduction of mobile phones, we have a new type of etiquette to be mindful of: phone etiquette.
It's one thing to be polite, but each new technology brings new challenges to etiquette, and having good phone etiquette affects almost all Australians on a daily basis.
A recent study commissioned by Telstra found that 78 percent of Australians believe that mobile phone etiquette has gotten worse with the advancement of smartphones.
The nationwide study found that 74 percent of Australians have been affected or upset by people's manners when using a phone.
Etiquette expert Anna Musson, who runs the Good manners Company, says she wasn't surprised by the survey results.
"We have become very much a 'me' society," she says.
"What suits us is very much first and foremost and usually the first choice. If someone is ringing us we want to answer it or if someone has tweeted us or beeped us we want to respond and that pretty much has taken over from how our actions impact others."
Do you have good manners?
Anna, who believes good manners are on the decline in Australia, says good phone etiquette always comes back to having good manners and good manners means putting others first.
"So, good manners is always about putting others first and thinking, 'How will my behaviour impact others?' And just watching one episode of Downton Abbey we can see it's all about the other person," Anna says.
"[In the show] they say, 'I couldn't possibly impose on you.' But today it's all about us first and I think that when you combine that with new technology we haven't defined the new rules yet."
The Telstra survey, which surveyed people of all ages, also found that using the phone while driving was the worst type of poor phone etiquette, followed by using your phone while at the movies.
So what's Anna's advice for avoiding this situation? If the phone rings, you don't have to answer it.
"It's great that we have all of this fantastic technology right at our finger tips, but sometimes we need to take a step back from it and consider other people and remember our manners," Anna says.
"Just because you can answer your phone right now doesn't mean that you always should. I think that's the invention of voicemail is wonderful, that is what it is for. We are such an instant society now and we want to be connected and I'm not saying that's a bad thing, it's great to be connected and technology is wonderful, so long as we are thoughtful users."
Anna says that good manners start at home and the manners message parents should be passing on to their children should also include polite phone etiquette.
"What I love about this survey is that it is increasing awareness it means that parents sitting down with their children at the dinner table can say 'no, you don't use your phone at the dinner table'," she said.
"So if we want to improve manners in society then we need to use them ourselves and we need to go back to the basics and start saying 'excuse me', 'thank you', 'may I', 'please' and 'after you', all of those little things."
How to practise good phone etiquette
  • Don't answer the phone or be texting if you are with someone else, at the counter of a shop, or having coffee with a friend. Anna says this the worst "phone par". "The person you are with will feel much more valued if you say, 'no I'll speak to that person later' and return the call at a better time," Anna says.
  • Just because you can't get a person on the phone when you want them, doesn't mean they won't get back to you. Don't persist, they may be tied up at the time. "It all comes down to business etiquette," Anna says. "They should return that call within that business day and if they can't then within 24 hours."
  • Remember that good manners leave a lasting impression. "Because people will say 'I really liked the way that made me feel, I'm going to do that to the next person'," Anna says.
  • Try not to disconnect yourself from the outside world too much by listening to music or constantly being on the phone. "The more we disconnect the more we aren't aware of what is around us, so we don't offer to help others and we don't say good morning to the bus driver," Anna says.
  • Don't use your phone or place your phone on the table during meals. Your attention should be on the person you are having the meal with.
  • Remember that children will follow by example, if good manners are used at home they will reflect this.

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