July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month!
Etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore founded the month in 2002, seeing the need to address proper cell phone use. Check out Whitmore's blog on this year's National Cell Phone Courtesy Month for some great tips, plus a video that illustrates how one should not use their phone during a date!
Last year, we interviewed Whitmore about overall cell phone courtesy. In the past, we've also discussed when you should turn your phone off.
This year, we're going to get to the heart of what cell phones provide: communication, and how to make it most effective when you have to leave a message.
That's right—voice mail! First of all, let's talk about...
The outgoing message
Think of your outgoing message as your own personal assistant. Personalize the message, keeping it current and updated as necessary. Remember to speak clearly and slowly. Keep the message friendly, but concise—a far more effective approach than a meandering "novelty" greeting that may seem hilarious at first, but quickly becomes annoying (especially if someone is trying to reach you in an emergency).
Leaving a message
Be brief but specific about why you're calling, and repeat your phone number at least twice. Include good times for them to return your call, but encourage them to call at their convenience. (If you're needing a quick response, you could say "earliest convenience.")
Use the voice mail!
And let others use it, too. If the phone rings while you're busy and there's no obvious emergency, let it ring and go to voice mail. You can excused yourself and check messages when it's appropriate. (If there's an emergency, you'll get multiple calls and/or texts in a row—go ahead and answer in these cases!
And, in general...
Always identify yourself with both your first and last name.
Before you get the conversation started, ask if it's a convenient time to talk, and offer to call later if it's not.
If you're calling to get information, have paper and pen ready to take notes.
Remember your tone of voice, whether you're speaking to a person or leaving a message.
After someone has helped you over the phone, feel free to thank them with a follow-up note. E-mail is fine, but getting an actual note in the mail is a special treat these days—as is a well-mannered phone call or voice mail!