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How to Not Be a Jerk When You're On Your Cell Phone

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There are so many fun summer events coming up. From sports, camping, movies, parties, BBQs, and more - you're sure to be surrounded by more people than usual in the next few months. Which means you need to take a minute to stop and evaluate your cell phone usage, and be sure that you're using proper smartphone etiquette. Here are some tips:

- Be all there: When you're in a meeting, performance, courtroom or other busy area, let calls go to voicemail to avoid a disruption. In some instances, turning your phone off may be the best solution.

- Keep it private: Be aware of your surroundings and avoid discussing private or confidential information in public. You never know who may be in hearing range.

- Keep your cool: Don't display anger during a public call. Conversations that are likely to be emotional should be held where they will not embarrass or intrude on others.

- Learn to vibe: Always use your wireless phone's silent or vibration settings in public places such as business meetings, religious services, schools, restaurants, theaters or sporting events so that you do not disrupt your surroundings.

- Avoid "cell yell:" Remember to use your regular conversational tone when speaking on your wireless phone. People tend to speak more loudly than normal and often don't recognize how distracting they can be to others.

- Follow the rules: Some places, such as hospitals or airplanes, restrict or prohibit the use of mobile phones, so adhere to posted signs and instructions. Some jurisdictions may also restrict mobile phone use in public places.

- Excuse yourself: If you are expecting a call that can't be postponed, alert your companions ahead of time and excuse yourself when the call comes in; the people you are with should take precedence over calls you want to make or receive.

- Focus on driving: Always practice wireless responsibility while driving. Don't make or answer calls while in heavy traffic or in hazardous driving conditions. Place calls when your vehicle is not moving, and use a hands-free device to help focus attention on safety. Always make safety your most important call.

July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, an event founded by author and etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore in 2002 with the intent of making cell phone users more respectful of their surroundings.

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