9 Places You Shouldn’t Be on the Phone

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Man on phone in movie theater
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Our cellphones fill many roles these days – they’re cameras, mini-computers, alarm clocks, timers and more. But there are some places where staying off the phone is the smart – and safe – choice.

“We can’t live without our cellphones, yet they can be one of our greatest foes,” says Diane Gottsman, an international etiquette expert, author and founder of the Protocol School of Texas. “They help keep us connected, but they also disconnect us from people.”

Gottsman encourages people to become familiar with their electronic devices. Know how to turn on theater mode, how to mute calls, and how to turn a phone completely off when needed. She tells Money Talks News that the following are places where people should really rethink using their phones.

1. Your kitchen

Woman eating bread
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There are multiple reasons to avoid phone use in your kitchen.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, handling devices during meal prep may pose a food contamination risk, and it’s a bad idea to have personal electronics on your kitchen counter.

Gottsman points out that if you’re making a recipe while distracted, you could accidentally skip a step or cut or burn yourself due to lack of attention. Plus, it’s not a good experience for the person on the other end of the call. “With all the kitchen noises, you sound like you’re in a blender,” Gottsman says.

2. A hospital or doctor’s office

People reading magazines in the waiting room
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Of course, there are times when people simply must use their phone at a medical center, perhaps to inform family of the situation. But try to seek out a private area for your call, Gottsman says, and stay off the speakerphone. The other patients or visitors truly don’t want to hear about Grandma’s colonoscopy results.

3. Sporting events

Senior golf
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Some sports, like football, are so noisy that your phone call is unlikely to even be noticed. But, as Gottsman points out, the roar of the crowd may mean the person you’re calling can’t even hear you.

Other sports, such as tennis or gymnastics meets, are different. Spectators want to focus on the event, not on your conversation, and you might even distract the competitors.

4. Bathroom stalls

Man on phone in bathroom
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People yakking away in bathroom stalls – it’s a sitcom cliche for a reason.

“It’s unsanitary, for one thing,” Gottsman says. “And you don’t know who’s listening. Be considerate.”

Do your business quietly and save the calls for later.

5. At the checkout counter

A young black store employee packs a bag of groceries at checkout
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Shoppers who carry on conversations while checking out at a store are “the worst,” Gottsman says. They’re not paying full attention to completing the transaction, are certainly slowing down other shoppers, and aren’t giving full respect to the cashier who’s just trying to do their job.

This one is so prevalent that some businesses even have posted signs saying something to the effect of, “We will be happy to serve you once you’ve finished your phone conversation.”

6. Entertainment events

rude man on cell phone during movie
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It should go without saying, but Gottsman notes people really need to stay off their phone while attending Broadway shows, movies, concerts and other such activities.

Even texting can annoy your fellow ticketholders, as your lit-up screen creates a distraction in an otherwise dark venue. Of course, this is certainly less of a problem at an arena mega concert.

7. Weddings and funerals

Woman using cell phone at wedding
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Respect weddings and funerals. “These are sacred events,” Gottsman says. “You don’t want to be the one person interrupting everyone’s experience.”

8. Kids’ performances

parents with cell phones during school play
Eric Lysenko / Shutterstock.com

Those kids worked hard to learn that dance routine for their recital, the lines for their school play, or the music for their band or choir concert. And their families came to hear them, not to listen to strangers talking or loudly typing. Keep the phone put away, Gottsman says.

9. Job interviews and business meetings

Stressed applicant worries while employer reads resume
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Job interviews and work meetings should be reserved for the business at hand, Gottsman notes. That goes for online meetings, such as Zoom calls, too.

Give your full attention to the matter at hand. Even the most boring business meeting won’t last forever, though sometimes they may seem that way.

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